elk toscana soup recipe
Jennifer Danella for Wide Open Spaces

Elk Zuppa Toscana: A Twist on an Italian Classic That Will Warm the Soul

Time saving tip: Use sausage from your butcher to speed things up!

Zuppa Toscana literally means "Tuscan soup," a nod to the city it came from. But the version most people know and love is not quite the Italian classic. Most Zuppa Toscana fans are deeply entrenched in the Olive Garden version. No matter which version you love, you can't beat its warmth and creamy goodness, which heats you from the inside out on a cold day. Now, you can make it at home.

The soup is filled with hearty ingredients like potatoes, kale, garlic, chicken broth, and bacon, all topped off with a spicy Italian sausage. We are adding a hunter's twist to the classic and using spicy elk sausage. Your elk sausage can be homemade or come from the processor or butcher. The choice is entirely yours, and it doesn't affect the end result one bit!

Crock Pot Elk Zuppa Toscana Recipe


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Ingredients for Spicy Elk Sausage
Note: You can skip making the sausage recipe if you have pre-made Italian sausage from your butcher.

  • 1-pound ground elk
  • 1 teaspoon each: cayenne, paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, garlic powder, onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon each fennel, black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Ingredients for Zuppa Toscana

  • 5 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 (32-ounce cartons) chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups tightly packed chopped kale
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Recipe Directions 

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Fry bacon, then set aside.
  2. Add ground elk and seasonings for the spicy sausage in the same skillet. Mix well.
  3. Cook until the elk is browned. Drain if needed, then place into the bottom of your slow cooker.
  4. Top with bacon, onion, minced garlic, and diced potatoes. Add in salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Then pour in chicken broth and water.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  6. Pour in heavy cream, kale, and Parmesan and cook for another 30 minutes. Taste the soup, add any additional salt and pepper if desired, and serve topped with additional Parmesan.

READ MORE: Elk Enchilada Dip: A Hunter's Twist on a Game Day Favorite