We Tasted And Ranked Every Olive Garden Soup

While Olive Garden is known for its standalone entrees, the moments when it offers all-you-can-eat options are always special considerations. From its occasional never-ending pasta bowl special to its almost unlimited breadsticks, you can get a pretty decent deal on a large quantity of casual Italian flavors. One of the evergreen all-you-can-eat options is the never-ending soup or salad and breadsticks, which is a great choice if you're craving Olive Garden, but after a less pasta-centric experience.


The four options on Olive Garden's soup menu are typically relegated to the appetizer role, but how do they stack up against each other when ranked spoon for spoon? If you've ever considered this question, then it's time to knuckle down and get to the bottom of this particular soup bowl.

Before ranking these four soups, however, it's important to establish a set of guidelines. Each soup had to be evaluated by rigorous testing in the following categories: appearance (does the soup look good enough to eat?), flavor (do the soup's ingredients make for a successful dish?), and breadstick dippability (does the soup pair well with Olive Garden's breadsticks?).

After evaluating all four of Olive Garden's soups, here is a definitive ranking from worst to best.


4. Pasta e fagioli

While the ground beef, tomatoes, shredded carrots, tubetti pasta, and two kinds of beans — white beans and red kidney beans, to be exact — look appetizing enough, the pasta e fagioli is outshined by pretty much every other soup on the menu.


The pasta e fagioli appears appetizing enough. The contrast between the white and red beans, the shreds of carrot, and the diced tomatoes make it look like a hearty way to start a meal at Olive Garden. Unfortunately, this visual feast doesn't quite deliver in the flavor department.

Flavor-wise, there's not much going on here. It looks and eats like a chili, implying at least a bit of boldness when it comes to flavor. However, all those tasty ingredients just blend together in a swirl of underseasoned, texturally bland chunks. The ground beef, for example, should provide a flavor foundation for the entire dish. Instead, it's lacking in nearly every aspect. This causes the veggies and beans to follow suit, and let's not even discuss the mushy, immensely overdone tubetti pasta.


If the ingredients did more to add variety to the pasta e fagioli's flavor, it would be easy to excuse their interference with the breadstick dippability factor. It's a thick soup, so most attempts to dip your breadstick are met with disappointment. There is a bit of broth left over once you finish eating all the bits and pieces, but not enough to get the most out of a breadstick dipping experience.

3. Minestrone

Olive Garden wouldn't be much of an Italian restaurant if it didn't offer this classic veggie soup, and it's a perfectly decent option as far as soup goes. The main reason it's second to last simply comes from the fact that its veggie-on-veggie composition is a little boring compared to the latter half of this ranking. Minestrone typically distinguishes itself from other tomato-based vegetable soups because it includes some kind of carbohydrate like rice or pasta, and that's what you get at Olive Garden.


Its appearance evokes a classic minestrone — the crimson tomato broth swimming with the greens, auburns, and ochre colors of zucchini, spinach, and beans. It's also got plenty of diced tomatoes and a decent amount of shell pasta — plenty of good stuff to look at here.

The foundational flavor of Olive Garden's minestrone comes from its light, fresh-tasting tomato broth. When considering this soup against tomato-based soups from other restaurants, it could run the risk of being a sodium bomb. However, this soup manages to keep things light and refreshing. The veggies and shell pasta within this soup are typically overdone to the point of mushiness, but it remains both an enjoyable appetizer and a decent plant-based meal on its own.


Breadsticks are a welcome complement to this soup, as they add a bit of heft to the lighter ingredients. The minestrone's broth is too thin to really coat the breadstick, but the dippability factor is definitely present here.

2. Chicken and gnocchi

Netting the silver medal on this list is the chicken and gnocchi. It's a great soup that incorporates a bit of American comfort food into Olive Garden's menu to create something creamy, hearty, and flavorful. It's a bit heavy to follow up with a big plate of fettuccine Alfredo, and it's about as Italian as chicken parmesan, but it sure is tasty.


One of this soup's main drawbacks is its appearance. The gnocchi and chicken blend in with the off-white broth, though there are little pops of green courtesy of the accompanying spinach. Despite the lackluster visuals, there is a lot of good going on with this dish.

Anyone familiar with a good chicken and dumplings soup will be right at home with the chicken and gnocchi, and honestly, it's a pretty clever riff on the Southern classic. The gnocchi are texturally successful — pillowy with just a touch of toothsome bite at their core. The bits of grilled chicken are nice and tender, and the spinach works to bring a little color and freshness to the whole affair. Those after a soup that eats like a whole meal will always be happy with this option.


Enjoying this soup with a big basket of breadsticks is a great call, as the thick, creamy soup works very well as a dip. Some of the other soups on the list offer thinner broth that doesn't really enhance the breadstick experience, but the chicken and gnocchi soup doesn't have that problem.

1. Zuppa Toscana

There's a lot to love about Olive Garden's zuppa Toscana, which is why it easily tops this list. There's enough flavor and textural interest happening here to set it apart from its companions, and it goes quite well with some buttery breadsticks.


While the zuppa Toscana has a similar color palette to the chicken and gnocchi, the rich green of the kale and the russet brown of the sliced potatoes do a lot to dress it up. The creamy broth doesn't have much in the way of vibrant color, but it's quite appetizing to look at thanks to the ingredient combo within.

From a flavor perspective, it's all about the slightly spicy Italian sausage, which wins where the pasta e fagioli loses; the meat brings a flavorful punch to the dish. The unpeeled russet potatoes are sliced thin, and the fact that their skins remain is a wise choice that brings flavor and texture to an ingredient that could otherwise get lost in the mix. The kale is also a nice touch, as it adds some cruciferous heft to the soup. It's a simple but effective combination, all in all.


Zuppa Toscana has a thinner broth than the chicken and gnocchi, but the sausage, potatoes, and kale give it a nice flavor that goes well with the accompanying breadsticks. In this case, the lighter broth is a plus, providing lots of opportunity for those breadsticks to soak up all those great flavors.