This Simple Ingredient Swap Makes Tuscan Soup Keto-Friendly

Sit down to a bowl of classic Tuscan soup, AKA Zuppa Toscana, and enjoy a comforting blend of tender potatoes, Italian sausage, smoky bacon, and vibrant kale, basking in a garlic-infused, rich cream base (via Natasha's Kitchen). It's one of Olive Garden's most popular soups, and there are numerous copycat recipes in the culinary stratosphere for folks who want to whip up a pot at home.

The hearty Italian soup is gluten-free and grain-free (per SFGate), but if you're following the keto diet, it's not the soup for you. The ketogenic diet (keto for short) is a very low carb, high fat diet. Healthline explains that when you ditch carbs and replace them with fat, your body goes into "ketosis," a metabolic state where fat (from food and your body) is burned for energy. In addition, your liver turns the fat into ketones, which may supply energy to the brain. The Diet Doctor adds that the keto regimen is popular because it can help with weight loss, reduce hunger, and improve type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. 

With 37 grams of carbohydrate in one potato (per Verywell Fit), Tuscan soup doesn't exactly fit the keto model. As The Harvard School of Public Health points out, the keto diet typically reduces total carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day and can go as low as 20 grams. One bowl of Zuppa Toscana and you're done for the day. Until now.

How to make Zuppa Toscano keto-friendly

Since the base of Tuscan soup is starchy spuds, how can it possibly fit into the keto regimen? According to Taste of Home, it's a simple swap: replace the potatoes with cauliflower. The soup-making process in their recipe is the same — you start by simmering the cruciferous vegetable (not tubers) in broth until tender — but the result is an exceptionally hearty soup with a fraction of the carbs. With 1.5 grams of net carbs in one half cup of cauliflower (per Men's Health), this simple substitution drastically reduces carbohydrates and transforms the traditional soup into a keto-friendly dish.

One regular bowl of Zuppa Toscano contains about 39 grams of carbs (per Food.) but switch over to cauli and that number drops to seven grams.

Now that you're armed with keto inspiration, swap in cauliflower for any of the delicious copycat recipes on the web. Lemon Tree Dwelling shared a recipe for a fiery Tuscan sausage and potato soup that requires just seven ingredients and is ready in about 30 minutes. Mom On a Timeout featured an equally easy soup embellished with bacon and parmesan cheese. Head over to My Recipes and find some unique twists — their Tuscan soup is enlivened with pecorino Romano, pancetta, sage, and toasted pine nuts.