Recently, we’ve developed quite the craving for hearty greens such as Swiss chard, red chard, bitter dandelions, kale, and escarole. Maybe it’s a function of aging or my body telling me to eat less salumi and rice balls (arancini) and more naturally occurring, and unmanipulated, food types.
Whatever the rationale, my craving has our home fridge stocked with fresh escarole. And next to simple sauteed escarole with extra virgin olive oil and garlic, Escarole and Cannellini Bean Soup (Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli) is a hugely satisfying dish requiring little work. Here’s our recipe:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 or 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 pound of coarsely chopped escarole
- 15 ounces of fresh cannellini beans (the above pictures show cranberry beans, but cannellini work best). You can of course use canned beans (but note they are expensive and, in my opinion, not as good as soaking your own dried bean)
- 4-5 cups of fresh water (you can use chicken or vegetable stock as well)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3-4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ onion finely diced (I find the onion optional but other recipes include it as a standard item)
- Hot pepper flakes to taste
- Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes to a large pot along with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and begin heating the pot (if you're using onion add it here as well). Sautée the garlic for a minute or so and add the escarole and cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Add salt, water, and beans. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can, of course, simmer the mixture longer, if needed to develop more intense flavor.
- After moving the soup to your serving bowl, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the beans and escarole and grate a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the soup. Serve the soup with a good quality bread (if you happen to live in the New York City area, then go
and get some bread from Sullivan Street Bakery) and a glass of Ciro from Calabria. The soup makes a wonderful, stand-alone, lunch!