Does Zuppa Toscana have gluten?

Quick Answer

Zuppa Toscana is a classic Italian soup that typically contains potatoes, kale, Italian sausage, chicken broth, heavy cream, and various Italian herbs and spices. The key ingredients in traditional Zuppa Toscana are naturally gluten-free. However, some variations of the soup may contain additional ingredients that contain gluten, such as pasta or bread crumbs. So the gluten content depends on the specific recipe. Checking the ingredients carefully is the only way to be sure if a particular Zuppa Toscana recipe contains gluten or not.

What is Zuppa Toscana?

Zuppa Toscana is a hearty Italian soup that originated in the Tuscany region of Italy. It features a creamy base broth loaded with flavorful ingredients like Italian sausage, russet potatoes, kale, onions, garlic, cream, and Italian seasonings.

Some key features of this classic soup include:

Hearty and Filling

The base of the soup is hearty chicken or vegetable broth loaded with potatoes, Italian sausage, and kale. All these ingredients come together to create a thick, chunky, and very filling soup. A bowl of zuppa toscana can stand alone as a complete meal.

Creamy Texture

Heavy cream is whisked into the soup, which gives it a rich, velvety, and creamy texture without being overly heavy or rich. The cream helps to tie all the flavors together.

Savory Flavors

Italian sausage and aromatics like garlic, onions, and Italian herbs infuse the broth with tons of savory flavor. There’s a subtle heat from red pepper flakes as well. Everything combines for a deeply flavorful and satisfying soup.

Easy to Make

Part of the appeal of zuppa toscana is how easy it is to prepare. The ingredients are simple and it comes together quickly on the stovetop. The hands-on cooking time is only about 15-20 minutes.

Traditional Ingredients in Zuppa Toscana

Here are the main ingredients found in most authentic recipes for zuppa toscana:


Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes form the hearty base of the soup. They are peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes then cooked until fork tender. The potatoes thicken the broth.

Italian Sausage

Spicy Italian sausage provides tons of robust flavor. It is cooked crumbled or removed from the casings and browned before adding to the soup.


Kale gives the soup some color and nutrients. Curly green or Lacinato kale is traditional but any variety works. The kale is chopped and added toward the end to briefly wilt in the hot broth.

Onions and Garlic

Aromatic onions and garlic build flavor in the base and round out the savory notes. They are cooked down before adding the broth.

Chicken or Vegetable Broth

The soup base is typically chicken broth but vegetable broth can be substituted to make it vegetarian. The broth provides the bulk of the volume.

Heavy Cream

Heavy cream adds luxurious richness and body to the soup. It is whisked in at the end and gently simmered to heat through.

Italian Herbs and Spices

Oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper flakes add characteristic Italian flavor. Kosher salt and black pepper season as well.

Is Zuppa Toscana Traditionally Gluten-Free?

Authentic zuppa toscana is made using ingredients that do not naturally contain gluten. The main components of the soup are:

– Potatoes
– Sausage
– Greens like kale or spinach
– Onions and garlic
– Chicken or vegetable broth
– Heavy cream
– Italian herbs and spices

None of these core ingredients contain gluten. So in its traditional prepared form, zuppa toscana is inherently a gluten-free soup.

There are no ingredients derived from wheat, barley, rye or other gluten-containing grains in classic recipes. So the soup is safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Potential Sources of Gluten

While the standard recipe does not call for gluten, there are some potential sources of gluten to watch out for:


Some recipes add small pasta like ditalini or orzo to zuppa toscana. These wheat-based pastas contain gluten.

Bread crumbs

Occasionally bread crumbs are used to thicken the soup or add texture. Bread crumbs contain gluten if made from wheat bread.


Some cooks use flour or roux to help thicken and add body to the soup. Flour contains gluten unless it is a gluten-free variety.


Most Italian sausage is gluten-free, but some brands add breadcrumbs or wheat flour. Check the labels to be sure.


Some commercial broths and bouillon cubes contain gluten as an additive. Look for gluten-free certified when buying broth.


Even if the ingredients are gluten-free, there is potential for cross-contamination during processing and manufacturing. This is a higher risk with commercial soup mixes.

How to Make Gluten-Free Zuppa Toscana

Here are some tips for preparing authentic gluten-free zuppa toscana at home:

Use naturally gluten-free ingredients

Stick to the classic recipe and avoid unnecessary additions like pasta, bread crumbs, or roux to thicken.

Check labels on packaged ingredients

Inspect sausage, broths, and all spices and seasonings to ensure they are labeled gluten-free.

Substitute gluten-free alternatives

If you want to add pasta or bread crumbs, use a gluten-free variety made from rice, quinoa or legumes. Replace regular flour with all-purpose gluten-free flour.

Prepare from scratch when possible

Make your own broth and croutons using gluten-free ingredients to avoid hidden sources of gluten in store-bought versions.

Prevent cross-contamination

Be diligent about washing hands, utensils, and prep surfaces before and during cooking to avoid cross-contact with gluten.

Gluten-Free Brands of Zuppa Toscana

Here are some brands that offer pre-made gluten-free versions of zuppa toscana soup:

Pacific Foods

Pacific Foods makes a shelf-stable organic zuppa toscana soup that is certified gluten-free. It is sold in Tetra Pak cartons that can be stored at room temperature until ready to use.

Imagine Foods

Imagine Foods has a dairy-free and vegan zuppa toscana soup that is certified gluten-free. It is made with plant-based broth and coconut milk instead of dairy.

Kettle Cuisine

Kettle Cuisine fresh frozen soup brand offers a gluten-free zuppa toscana option. It contains sausage and cream for the authentic indulgent flavor.

Amy’s Kitchen

Amy’s Kitchen has a vegetarian take on zuppa toscana made with organic vegetables, beans, and gluten-free pasta. It is labeled gluten-free.

Colorado Mountain Soup Company

This brand of gourmet soups based in Colorado has a zuppa toscana flavor that is certified gluten-free. They focus on fresh, natural ingredients.

Lean Cuisine

The popular frozen meal brand Lean Cuisine has a creamy potato with kale and sausage soup inspired by zuppa toscana that is labeled gluten-free. It provides a quick convenient option.

Is Zuppa Toscana at Italian Restaurants Gluten-Free?

If dining out at an Italian restaurant that serves zuppa toscana, be sure to inquire about the gluten-free status directly with your server. Do not make any assumptions. Here are some tips:

Ask if the soup contains wheat or gluten

Explain your dietary needs and ask the server to check if the soup is made without any gluten-containing ingredients.

Request the ingredient list

Ask for a full list of the ingredients to cross-check against your own list of acceptable foods.

Check for thickeners

Find out if the soup base contains any added flour, breadcrumbs or wheat-based pasta. These all contain gluten.

Be aware of cross-contamination

Even if the ingredients are gluten-free, many restaurants use shared equipment and prep spaces, which introduces a risk of cross-contamination with gluten.

Seek out gluten-free certification

Your safest bet is to look for restaurants that can guarantee their zuppa toscana soup is certified gluten-free, meaning they follow strict protocols to avoid cross-contamination.

Being well-informed about the ingredients and preparation practices is key for anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity dining out. Do not hesitate to ask questions to ensure the zuppa toscana soup is safe to eat.

Gluten-Free Substitutes for Zuppa Toscana

For those avoiding gluten, zuppa toscana can easily be made using some simple ingredient swaps:

Gluten-Free Pasta

Instead of wheat pasta, use rice pasta, quinoa pasta, chickpea pasta or corn pasta. Brands like Barilla, Banza, or Jovial make gluten-free pasta varieties.

Gluten-Free Bread Crumbs

For bread crumbs, substitute gluten-free panko bread crumbs made from rice or gluten-free bread cubes.

Gluten-Free Flour

Replace regular flour to thicken the soup with cornstarch, arrowroot, gluten-free all-purpose flour, or almond flour.

Gluten-Free Bouillon Cubes

Swanson, Knorr, Bonafide Provisions and Massel make gluten-free vegetable and chicken bouillon cubes and powders.

Homemade Gluten-Free Croutons

To make croutons, cut gluten-free bread into cubes, toss with olive oil and Italian spices and bake until crispy. Brands like Udi’s, Canyon Bakehouse, and Schar make gluten-free bread.

With a few simple substitutions, people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance can still enjoy the classic comfort of zuppa toscana. The hearty flavors of this Tuscan soup translate perfectly to be gluten-free.


In summary, traditional zuppa toscana soup is made primarily using gluten-free whole food ingredients like sausage, potatoes, greens, onions, broth and cream. However, some modern recipes include additions like wheat pasta or bread crumbs that introduce gluten. To keep zuppa toscana gluten-free, it’s important to check the specific ingredients in each recipe and watch out for potential cross-contamination. With some simple substitutions of gluten-free pasta, breads, thickeners and broths, people following a gluten-free diet can safely enjoy this Italian classic. When dining out, be sure to verify the gluten-free status directly with the restaurant. Overall, this flavorful hearty soup can easily be tailored to be gluten-free friendly.

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