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This super simple Instant Pot Pesto Zuppa Toscana is the perfect cold-weather dinner…great for nights when I’m craving Italian, but want something warming too. Spicy Italian chicken sausage simmered in a creamy basil pesto broth with potatoes, kale, a little lemon, and even a little bacon. Finish each bowl off with a sprinkle of cheese and serve with crusty bread. It’s hearty, full of greens, and so delicious. Great for just about any night of the week. And the leftovers the next day make for the best lunch!

This post is sponsored by Instant Pot. 

overhead photo of Instant Pot Pesto Zuppa Toscana with spoons in bowls

This Italian soup is a recipe I’ve been wanting to create for a while now. I’m not sure what took me so long to test this out, but I’m so happy I finally did, because wow, this is hands down a new family favorite.

Technically this is soup, but it’s definitely hearty enough to serve for dinner on these cold November nights (it’s been snowing here since yesterday…and I could not be happier about it). But the best part? This is SO EASY.

I worked with my Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus to create this creamy soup in just about 30 minutes. I’m sure you guys have noticed, but I’ve been loving my Instant Pot this fall. I’ve found it so useful during this insanely busy time with the launch of HBH Super Simple and all things holiday 2019. It’s really been a lifesaver and I’ve already remade this soup three times since returning home from Chicago last week.

Instant Pot Pesto Zuppa Toscana in instant pot while cooking, before adding cream

The backstory…

As with a lot of recipes, this idea came from my brother. This time though? It was my oldest brother, Creighton.

He was telling me about one of his favorite soups that he used to get at the Olive Garden – Zuppa Toscana. I’d never heard of it, so of course, I did a little Googling and discovered that the recipe actually sounds quite delicious. A lot of times Creighton can throw some rather interesting recipes at me, but this soup was one I knew I needed to put my own spin on. It took me a while to finally create the recipe, but here it is, and I think you’ll find it’s delicious.

And yes, it’s inspired by the Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden…next up…their breadsticks.

Instant Pot Pesto Zuppa Toscana in instant pot, before serving

The Details…

As you might guess, this recipe is pretty straightforward and simple.

Start with your Instant Pot on sauté and cook off the bacon. Then add in spicy Italian sausage (I always prefer to use chicken sausage, but pork sausage is great too). Next add in some onions, garlic, celery, and all the usuals.

The key to a good Zuppa Toscana is the spicy sausage and the potatoes. Once you add in the potatoes, stir in some basil pesto. This may not be traditional but it really adds so much to this hearty soup. I’ve found that both the addition of pesto and fresh lemon really lighten things up and truly enhance the Italian flavors.

At this point, simply seal the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure…just eight minutes. Then release the steam using the quick release.

overhead photo of Instant Pot Pesto Zuppa Toscana in soup bowls

Once the base has finished cooking, simply stir in some cream, parmesan, and kale.

And that’s it, just 30 minutes later you’ll have a creamy bowl of classic Italian soup. AND, you’ll have only used ONE pot and likely made very little mess. Oh, and be sure to have extra parmesan, fresh thyme, and crusty bread for serving. They really do complete the soup.

See, Super Simple yet so much flavor. This will be great for serving guests over the holidays, or just your family on a cold night. The leftovers reheat well and are delicious the following day for lunch or dinner. I haven’t had a chance to serve this to Creighton just yet, but I know that once he arrives on Friday he’ll be begging me for it. So yes, I will be making this yet again. No complaining here though…love this soup!

close up side angled photo of Instant Pot Pesto Zuppa Toscana

Looking for other warming HBH soups? Check out the soup section on HBH’s recipe page.

If you make this Instant Pot Pesto Zuppa Toscana, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

watch the how to video:

Instant Pot Pesto Zuppa Toscana.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 332 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Instructions

Instant Pot

  • 1. Set Instant Pot to sauté. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon. If there's excess bacon grease, drain off all but 1 tablespoon. Add the chicken sausage and onions, and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, and potatoes, and cook 2 minutes. Turn the Instant Pot off.
    2. To the instant pot, add the broth, pesto, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.
    3. Once done cooking, use the natural or quick release function. Set the Instant Pot to sauté. Stir in the kale, cream, and parmesan. Cook until the kale is wilted, about 10 minutes. Turn the Instant Pot off. Stir in the reserved bacon.
    4. Serve the soup topped with additional parmesan and fresh thyme, if desired.

Stove-Top

  • 1. Cook the bacon in a large soup pot set over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon. If there's excess bacon grease, drain off all but 1 tablespoon. Add the chicken sausage and onions, and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, and potatoes, and cook 2 minutes. Add the broth, pesto, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
    2. Stir in the kale, cream, and parmesan. Cook until the kale is wilted, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved bacon.
    3. Serve the soup topped with additional parmesan and fresh thyme, if desired.

Slow Cooker

  • 1. Cook the bacon in a large soup pot set over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon. If there's excess bacon grease, drain off all but 1 tablespoon. Add the chicken sausage and onions, and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken sausage to the bowl of your crockpot.
    2. To the crockpot, add the the garlic, celery, potatoes, broth, pesto, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5.
    2. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, stir in the kale, cream, and parmesan. Turn the heat to high and cook until the kale is wilted. Stir in the reserved bacon.
    4. Serve the soup topped with additional parmesan and fresh thyme, if desired.
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horizontal photo of Instant Pot Pesto Zuppa Toscana

{This post is sponsored by Instant Pot. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Half Baked Harvest cooking!}

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Comments

    1. Hey Sherry,
      Sure, that will work well for you. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  1. 5 stars
    I’m still new to using an instant pot but always looking for vegatarian recipes (or ones I can adjust). I made this with beyond sausage links and cut them up and only used 4 cups of veggie broth, which I’m glad I did. I subbed kale for spinach and coconut milk for cream. I also cooked at 10 minutes vs. 8. This is a perfect meal on a snowy day (or any day!).

    1. Hey Alissa,
      Happy Friday! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Thanks for sharing what worked well for you. xTieghan

  2. This recipe was absolutely delicious! I’ve made several of your recipes and each one has been truly yummy. Thank you for sharing your talent and love of food!

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Happy Friday! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! xTieghan

    1. Hi Sarah,
      This would be totally fine to freeze. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    Amazing tasting soup! It was so tasty with so many yummy flavors per comforting bite! It was also so fast to make! I can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow for lunch!

    1. Hi Vivian,
      Wonderful! I am thrilled to hear this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for giving it a go! Happy New Year!🎆 xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! I’ve loosely followed this recipe several times and it always turns out great! It’s even good with ground turkey and without bacon. 10/10

    1. Hi Grace,
      Wonderful! I am thrilled to hear this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for giving it a go! Happy New Year!🎆 xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    I just made this for my family last night on the stove top (along with the beer bread from super simple – YUM) and holy shit balls, it’s amazing. The pesto really makes it pack a flavor punch. I couldn’t find spicy italian sausage so I used sweet (which I was bummed about because I hate anise) but the rest of the flavor totally masked that licorice taste. Also couldn’t find chicken sausage … will DEFINITELY need to find some or I’m gonna gain so much weight making this soup on repeat. Thanks again for another amazing recipe! Hope you have a Merry Christmas!!! <3

    1. Hi Courtney,
      Wonderful! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for giving it a try! Happy Holidays!🎄🎁 xTieghan

  6. This soup is my new FAVORITE soup. I made the stove top version and it was so delicious. Can’t wait to make it again.

    1. Hi Megan,
      Thanks so much for trying this recipe out, I am thrilled to hear that it was enjoyed. Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  7. 5 stars
    This soup was easy to throw together and really delicious! I made this on the stovetop and made it exactly as written (except that I used Italian chicken sausage links because that’s what I had on hand and I didn’t want to make a store run). The only thing I would do differently next time (except for using ground Italian chicken sausage) is sweating the celery longer with the onions instead of afterwards without the potatoes. (My celery didn’t cook enough, though the potatoes did.) Regardless, highly recommended!

  8. 5 stars
    Another great soup recipe! We loved this one as well as the Rosemary Bacon Gnocchi Soup. Both are favorites in our home!

    1. Hey Eva,
      Happy Sunday! Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! xTieghan

  9. Hi! Love this recipe but ran out of half and half. Can I use oat milk or coconut milk as a substitute? No regular milk on hand either.

        1. 5 stars
          So simple and delicious! It’s about 15 minutes hands on but the rest of time is letting the instant pot do its thing. For those saying it takes longer than 30min-it totally depends on how long your instant pot takes to ‘heat up’ before actually ‘cooking’!! So worth the time!

          1. Hey there,
            I love to hear that this recipe worked out for you, thanks a bunch for giving it a try! xTieghan

    1. Hey Lauren,
      Either of those will work. Please let me know how the recipe turns out, thanks for giving it a try! xTieghan

  10. 5 stars
    This soup is hands down the best soup I’ve ever made! The addition of pesto is a flavor game changer. I made this last week, and am already making it again today in the crockpot, it was that delicious! I used hot Italian sausage instead of the chicken sausage because I always have it on hand. Thanks for another fantastic recipe Tieghan!

    1. Hi Annie,
      Thanks so very much for giving this recipe a go, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Happy Thanksgiving! xTieghan