Escarole Soup

Jun.07.11 § 1 Comment

This is what I call Escarole Soup. That name may mean nothing to you. Or it may mean “wedding soup,” which is a misnomer and also not what this soup is. Minestra Maritata — supposedly mistranslated as Italian Wedding Soup though it is not actually served at weddings — is the marrying of escarole and meat. My soup on the other hand is simply escarole, which is one of my favorite greens, cooked in broth with white beans. When I was a kid my mom would make this soup once a week. It was such a favorite of mine that I wrote a poem about it which I titled “Mama’s Soup.” It was so good that my dad would slurp up every last drop and exclaim, “Nectar of the Gods!” But the recipe is really nothing special. My mom made it with chicken broth and added pasta. I swapped out the chicken broth for veggie and cut out the pasta all together because, to me, escarole is better without any distractions. The resulting simple recipe is just intuitive Italian cooking: garlic, onion, greens and beans. In fact, you could say it’s just another version of Garlic, Greens and Beans, which I make with kale. While I worship on the alter of King Kale, escarole is probably the son of God to me.

Escarole is a member of the endive family, which means it is somewhat bitter (which I love.) Much to my delight, I finally found it at a grocery store in my neighborhood. Now I can make one of my favorite soups whenever I want, or just eat it raw. Make sure to wash the escarole well, as it is often covered in gritty dirt. It is also great in salads and is my favorite as the base for a good Caesar.

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried ground thyme

1 large or 2 medium head(s) escarole, trimmed of any unsightly outer leaves, chopped and washed well

2 quarts vegetable broth

2 cans or 3 cups white beans

Parmesan for serving

Directions

Begin by washing the escarole, drying and setting aside. Then sweat the onion until translucent, add the garlic and thyme and cook for less than a minute more, then add the broth. Bring the soup to a boil and add the escarole. Turn down the heat, cover and wilt the greens. Once the escarole is wilted, add the beans and cook until heated through. Serve with parmesan cheese and the optional but not unwelcome slice of crusty bread.

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