This recipe for stovetop-simmered vegan butternut squash zuppa Toscana tastes as good as the original, with a unique Fall season twist. It combines a quick, homemade cashew cream with plant-based spicy Italian sausage, chopped kale, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, vegetable stock, and tender cubes of butternut squash for a rich and creamy vegan soup recipe that will satisfy all types of eaters. This pot of goodness comes together in one pot in about 1 hour.
I love making a totally plant-based version of zuppa Toscana with vegan sausages, especially when I know that a cold snap is coming. I try to eat mostly whole foods when I can, but veggie sausages are a thing that I just crave sometimes. For this recipe, I recommend either Field Roasts’s Italian Garlic & Fennel or Beyond Meat’s Hot Italian options.
The inspiration for this recipe:
- Zuppa Toscana translates to Tuscan soup. Of course there are many different styles of soup that are made in this region of Italy. When trying to learn about the origins of this soup, websites point to a variety of soups that include hearty greens, potatoes, sometimes beans, stale bread etc.
- But mostly, the popularity of The Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana seems to be what most recipes are pointing to when discussing this recipe. This is my inspiration as well.
- The restaurant’s version (and recipes inspired by it) uses sausage, kale, potatoes, and a dairy-based creamy broth as the main components. I veganize this easily with veggie sausages and cashew cream.
For an extra Autumnal bowl of goodness, I used diced butternut squash in place of the potatoes. The sweetness of the squash plays off of the spice in the veggie sausages really nicely. If you want something that sticks to the original, replace the squash with chopped potatoes. The cooking time will be roughly the same.
Cashew cream gives us a lush texture, but 1 ¼ cups of your favourite unsweetened non-dairy creamer or rich, unsweetened oat milk (like this one) will work in a pinch. To give this vegan butternut squash zuppa Toscana recipe deeply savoury flavour, the veggie sausages do a lot of heavy lifting. But I also use chopped sun dried tomatoes, garlic, nutritional yeast, dried herbs, and smoked paprika.
I hope that you enjoy making this next time you need a hearty soup to warm you up. Fans of this may also like my butternut minestrone with sage, chickpeas & chard, or community fave creamy white bean soup with kale, rosemary & lemon.
Vegan Butternut Squash Zuppa Toscana
- ⅓ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 vegan veggie sausages (see notes), chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, small dice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, minced
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 4 cups chopped squash)
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 cups vegetable stock, plus extra
- 4 cups chopped kale, lightly packed (from about 1 small bunch)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- chopped parsley, for garnish
- My favourite vegan sausages for this recipe are either Field Roasts’s Italian Garlic & Fennel or Beyond Meat’s Hot Italian options. I used the Beyond Meat ones in these photos.
- If you have enough oil in your jar of sun dried tomatoes, I recommend using that instead of regular olive oil for the sautéing steps.
- If you do not wish to make cashew cream as outlined in the recipe, I recommend using 1 ¼ cups unsweetened non-dairy creamer or a rich oat milk instead. Add it in step 5 (and obviously skip step 1).
- If you want something that sticks to the original zuppa Toscana, replace the squash with chopped Yukon gold potatoes. The cooking time will be roughly the same.
- Make the cashew cream. In an upright blender, combine the cashews and water. Blend until completely smooth–like a thick milk. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Swirl the oil around and add the chopped vegan sausages. Brown the sausages on all sides, breaking the pieces up a bit with your spoon. Once fully browned and cooked (after about 5 minutes), transfer the cooked sausage to a plate.
- Add remaining olive oil to the pot and swirl. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, dried thyme, and dried oregano. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun dried tomatoes and stir again.
- Add the chopped butternut squash and some big pinches of salt and pepper. Stir everything up and then pour in the vegetable stock. Place a lid on top of the pot, slightly askew to allow venting. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer until squash is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Once squash is tender, add the kale and simmer until it is soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add more stock (or water) if you need to at this point. Pour in the cashew cream from earlier and add the cooked veggie sausage. Stir. Bring to a boil and stir in the apple cider vinegar. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Serve the butternut squash zuppa Toscana hot with chopped parsley and extra ground black pepper on top.