No matter how you make it, Zuppa Toscana is an easy soup to make, BUT, it's even easier in the Ninja Foodi because you simply throw everything in and pressure cook. If you've made Zuppa Toscana before, you might be thinking that this isn't anything new. I always just throw the ingredients in and cook it in one pot. What if I told you that you leave the potatoes whole, the onions whole, no cutting them up!
I bet I have your attention now! This quickly became one of my favorite soups, not only because it's delicious, but it's so darn easy to make. I bet you will love it as much as I do! You can make this soup in your Ninja Foodi, Instant Pot, or any other electric pressure cooker.
Ingredients & Substitutions
I used mild Italian pork sausage in this recipe, but you can use sweet or hot Italian sausage or a combination of flavors. Any kind of sausage that you like will be perfect in this soup. You could also use ground beef if you prefer, but make sure to increase the seasonings because the seasoning blend in this recipe compliments the seasonings in the sausage so you will need to increase the seasonings when using plain ground beef.
Cubes of chicken could also be used in this recipe, but again, make sure to increase the seasonings.
I also used sausage in a casing and didn't worry about removing it because pressure cooking softens it quite a bit. You can certainly use ground sausage without a casing, but I really liked the texture of the chunks of sausage in the recipe. If you like softer bites of meat, you can even skip the browning of the sausage and this truly is a dump and cook soup with a few finishing touches. However, I thought the sausage texture was a little too soft when I tried not browning it first, so, for me at least, this is an important step.
You can even make this soup without any meat at all and bump up the vegetables, however make sure to add your quick cooking veggies after pressure cooking so they don't overcook.
In this recipe I used a combination of spices to create the seasoning blend, but you can certainly switch things up to season it the way you like. I used Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, basil, and finished with some red pepper flakes.
As with any recipe, use the seasonings as a guide and feel free to increase, decrease, or omit what you don't like. I found this blend to perfectly season the soup and I loved the addition of red pepper flakes, but if you don't like anything spicy, leave those out.
Vegetables & Beans
I have made this recipe with both Russet potatoes and Yukon Gold. What I found is the Russet potatoes are softer in the soup than the Yukon Gold. I prefer using golden potatoes because they hold their texture better, however size matters when pressure cooking them with the beans.
The 25 minute pressure cook time that it takes for the dry beans to soften is a long time for potatoes of any variety so it's important to use whole potatoes and you want them to be at least 6 ounces in weight if possible.
If you are using canned beans and your pressure cook time is reduced to 2-3 minutes, then you will want to cut up the potatoes into bite-size pieces so they cook through.
Any kind of onion can be used in this recipe, but I would choose large onions if pressure cooking with dry beans. I used sweet onions, but yellow onions or white onions are perfectly fine in this recipe.
If you are using canned beans, cut your onions into pieces before pressure cooking since the pressure cooking time is greatly reduced.
Usually, kale or another hearty leafy green is used in Zuppa Toscana, but I didn't have any and I happen to love spinach, so that is what I used.
The spinach is added in after pressure cooking and cooked using the residual heat of the broth. This maintains the vibrant green of the spinach and looks beautiful in the soup.
You can substitute kale or collard greens, but they will require a longer pressure cooking time. The easiest thing to do is add those hearty greens in at the beginning before pressure cooking, but don't be surprised when they turn a dull green color.
The other option is to steam the kale or collard greens separately and then add to the soup at the end to maintain the vibrant green color.
Zuppa Toscana soup is usually with made cannellini beans, but when I tested this recipe I only had dried great northern beans and I used them. I enjoyed the textures in the soup so much that I left them in, but you can certainly use dried cannellini beans and the pressure cook time would be the same.
The pressure cook time and liquid used is based on using dried beans that are not soaked and cook fully during pressure cooking. If you want to use canned beans, that is perfectly fine, but I would decrease the PC time to 20 minutes and decrease the liquid to 4 cups.
If you wanted to use canned beans and cut up the onions and potatoes before pressure cooking, decrease your PC time to about 2-3 minutes.
Liquid & Garnishes
Chicken Broth & Cream
The base of this soup is chicken broth and while you can use beef broth or stock, it will darken the soup considerably.
You can also use some white wine in place of some of the chicken broth, but I would limit that to 1 cup of white wine so that it isn't overpowering.
The cream is added at the end to give the soup a lighter color and a slightly creamy texture. This is optional and leaving it out won't change the flavor much, if any. ----
Frying up some bacon, especially thick-cut bacon, and using the bacon pieces as a garnish adds a nice flavor and a bit of crunch in the soup. This is optional though.
Topping the soup with either grated parmesan cheese or shaved parmesan cheese adds a slightly salty flavor to the soup and is absolutely delicious. I prefer using shaved parmesan over grated, but either is perfectly fine.
Croutons or Crusty Bread
You can either serve the Zuppa Toscana with a piece of crusty bread or simply top the soup with croutons, which is my preference. The croutons add a wonderful crunch when eating the soup. I use this recipe and make my own croutons: Air Fryer Croutons
How to Make Zuppa Toscana in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
Like I said earlier, there are many different ways to make Zuppa Toscana Soup, but my favorite and the easiest way in my opinion is to use your pressure cooker. I used the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper in this recipe, but you can use your Instant Pot or any electric pressure cooker.
The reason I love this method is there is hardly any prep involved. In fact, the first time I made the soup, I did even less prep and skipped the step of sautéing the sausage. This will cut about 10 minutes from the recipe and it's perfectly fine if you want to do that. However, I much preferred the texture of the sausage after sautéing. Skipping this step will result in a softer texture, but it is still delicious.
I don't remove the casing from the Italian sausage before sauteing just because it's easier to snip it with scissors or cut with a sharp knife into bite-size pieces.
I also like to add a few slices of chopped thick sliced bacon to sauté with the sausage. I use thick cut applewood bacon, but any type of bacon you like is fine. Just chop up a few slices and throw it into the pot.
Turn the Ninja Foodi or Instant pot on high sear/sauté. Add in the sausage that is cut into bite-size pieces.
Sauté on high until the sausage is browned and the bacon starts to cook. Add in the garlic cloves and stir everything around.
You do not need to cook the sausage all the way through, just brown it on all sides and move on to the next step.
Deglaze the pot with chicken stock and make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with a utensil that is safe for the material of your pot. I use my scoop & spread from Pampered Chef.
Cut the ends off of the onions and peel the skin off. Throw the whole onions in the pot and then add the seasoning blend.
Next add in the dry northern beans, navy beans, or cannellini beans. *** Remember, if you are using canned beans, the directions are different. See the section above labeled Ingredients & Substitutions ***
Add in the whole potatoes. Put the pressure lid on and make sure the valve is turned to seal. Pressure cook on high for 25 minutes and when the time is up, do a quick release of the pressure.
Once you can open the lid, remove the lid and I recommend testing a bean for doneness. You can always pressure cook the beans longer if you want them softer, but I found 25 minutes was the perfect timing. I also have done 30 minutes and the beans were just a tad too soft for my liking.
Once you know the beans are cooked correctly for your liking, then you can make the finishing touches to the soup. It doesn't look like much right now, but trust me, it is a beautiful soup at the end.
I find it easy to remove the whole onions and potatoes to roughly chop them on the cutting board, but they are soft enough that you can also use a Mix 'n Chop right in the inner pot or just break them up with a fork into bite-size pieces.
Add in the spinach and stir to get the spinach leaves under the broth. Let sit for a few minutes and the residual heat will wilt the spinach while leaving it a vibrant green.
If you removed the whole potatoes and onions to chop them, add them back into the pot and stir in the cream.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with crispy bacon, grated or shaved parmesan cheese if desired. I also like to top my soup with air fryer croutons or serve with crunchy French bread.
How to Make Zuppa Toscana without a Pressure Cooker
A pressure cooker is not an absolute necessity when making zuppa toscana, it can easily be made stovetop or in a slow cooker.
I recommend soaking the beans in water for at least 8 hours if using dry beans. You can also use canned beans that are drained if desired.
The basic ingredients will stay the same if you are cooking this recipe on the stove or in a crockpot. The only difference will be in the kind of beans you are using, if they are dry and soaked or dry, and the liquid needed.
Using a large pot on the stove, turn the heat on high and add in the sausage (cut into bite-size pieces) and 2 pieces of the bacon chopped. Heat until brown on all sides and the bacon starts to render its fat.
Add in the smashed garlic and sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Deglaze the pot with chicken stock. Use 6 cups if using soaked beans and 5 cups if using canned beans (drain them first). Add in onion and potato that has been chopped into bite-size pieces. Stir in the seasoning blend.
Add in the beans and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes if using canned beans and about 20 minutes if using soaked dry beans. Test the beans to make sure they are done and if not, simmer until they are the consistency you like. Also make sure the sausage is cooked completely.
Stir in the spinach and allow to wilt. Stir in the cream.
Serve and garnish with desired toppings.
Crockpot or Slow Cooker Directions
If your slow cooker has the capability of searing/sautéing, you can make the entire recipe in the slow cooker pot. If not, you will want to brown the sausage and bacon on the stove and then add them to the pot of the slow cooker.
Once the sausage has browned and the bacon starts to render its fat, add in the smashed garlic cloves and sauté for about 1 minute or until fragrant.
Deglaze the pot with 5 cups of chicken broth or stock if using soaked dry beans and 4 cups if using canned beans. Add in the chopped onions and potatoes along with the seasoning blend.
Slow Cook on high for 2-4 hours (this really depends on the doneness of the beans if using dry/soaked beans) or until the sausage and potatoes are cooked through (probably 2 hours) and the beans are the consistency you like. If you are using drained canned beans, 1 hour may be enough to cook the sausage and potatoes.
OR, slow cook on low for 3-6 hours or until the beans are the consistency you like and the sausage and potatoes are cooked through.
Add in the spinach and the cream, stir and let sit for about 5-10 minutes or until the spinach has wilted in the hot broth.
Serve and Garnish with desired toppings.
Frequently Asked Questions
The quick answer is yes, you can. However, potatoes and cream soups don't always reheat that great because the potatoes change texture and the cream often splits.
I have successfully frozen and reheated the soup by making sure it is completely cold before freezing and using a vacuum sealed pouch. Then, I reheated using sous vide right in the bag. The gentler reheating temperature worked great.
You could also try reheating pot in pot using the steam function on the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot.
You can certainly cut the recipe in half and keep the pressure cooking time the same.
Depending on what size Ninja Foodi (or Instant Pot) you have would determine how much soup you could make. In the 6.5qt or 5 qt models, I would stick to the original recipe. If you have the 8qt, you can probably increase the recipe by 50%.So, I wouldn't double it, but you 1½ the recipe should work fine. If you make a large quantity, I would decrease the PC to 20 minutes and increase the pressure release time to 10 minutes.
Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana
- 2 teaspoons fine grind sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 18 ounces Italian Sausage any kind you like
- 2 strips thick cut applewood smoked bacon
- 1 bulb garlic or 2 tsp of minced garlic
- 6 cups chicken stock or broth
- 2 large onions
- 1½ cups dried northern beans or cannellini beans
- 3-4 large Yukon Gold Potatoes or Russets
- 8 ounces baby spinach
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 slices bacon cooked crispy
- shaved or shredded parmesan cheese
- croutons or crusty bread
- Chop the sausage into bite size pieces, leave the casing on. Chop 2 slices of bacon into thin strips. Cut the ends off of the onions and peel the skin off. Wash the potatoes. Peel the garlic cloves.
- Measure out the spice blend and the remaining ingredients.
- Turn the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot on high sear/sauté and add the sausage and bacon. Sauté until just about brown and add in peeled garlic cloves or minced garlic if using. Sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Deglaze the pot with chicken stock and scrape the bottom with a utensil safe for your inner pot.
- Add the dry beans, whole onions, and whole potatoes. Stir well. Put the pressure cooker lid on and make sure the valve is to the sealed position. Pressure cook for 25 minutes and when the time is up, turn the valve to vent to immediately release the pressure.
- Open the lid and either break up the onions and potatoes in the pot or remove and chop into bite size pieces. Add the spinach to the soup and stir to submerge the spinach so the heat from the broth will wilt it.
- Add the potatoes and onions back into the soup if necessary and add in the cream. Stir and Serve.
- Garnish with crispy bacon bits, parmesan cheese, and croutons if desired.
Easy Pressure Cooker Soups & Stew Recipes
One of my favorite ways to make soup and stews is using my pressure cooker. It's a great way to get tons of flavor into a soup in a short time. No need to simmer for hours and hours!
Here are some of my most popular recipes made in the pressure cooker.
- Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
- Pressure Cooked Beef Stew in the Ninja Foodi
- Cabbage & Sausage Soup (Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot)
- Pressure Cooker Beef & Barley Soup
- Pressure Cooker Vegetable Soup ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
- New England Clam Chowder ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
- Ham and Lima Bean Soup in the Ninja Foodi
- Irish Stew ~ Pressure Cooker Recipe
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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This dish was a massive hit!! I enjoyed sharing it with two of my neighbours. They agreed :-). Thank you so very much for your work. It's a pleasure to bring joy to others, with your guidance. Keep awesome! Brody
I'm so glad you and your neighbors enjoyed it!
This was very good! Our first time tasting this soup. I don’t go to Olive Garden very often. The beans were still hard after 25 minutes so we pressure cooked another 30 minutes. After that, they were perfect. Next time, we’ll pressure cook it for an hour. Delicious!!!!
What beans did you use? I'm surprised they were still hard, but beans sometimes have a mind of their own!
I used cannellini
When do you add the spice mixture?
After you deglaze the pot with liquid.