How to Make Escarole Soup

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Escarole, a late-season green in the endive family, blurs the lines between lettuce and bitter greens. On one hand, it has a mild flavor that fits comfortably in a crisp salad of tender, leafy greens -- on the other, it has a toothiness reminiscent of cold-hardy greens, and thus holds up to braising and even grilling. These attributes lend themselves well to both stock- and cream-based soups, and you can use escarole as the main ingredient in both. After you learn the basics of soup-building, try a classic escarole soup, such as Marcella Hazan's escarole with rice, for inspiration in creating your own.

How to Make Escarole Soup
(Karen Amundson/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Butter or olive oil
  • Aromatics, such as onions and carrots
  • Flour
  • Stock or milk
  • Secondary ingredients, such as potatoes or rice
  • Fresh herbs
Step 1

Wash the escarole and chop it into into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide strips. Heat a couple tablespoons of a fat of your choice over medium heat in a large saucepan. You can use olive oil, butter or, for added meatiness, try diced bacon or pancetta.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 2

Saute the aromatic base vegetables for the soup in the fat until they start to brown. Use the French mirepoix combination of carrots, onions and celery, or the Latin American sofrito, which contains chopped red and green bell peppers, onions and garlic.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 3

Add 1 tablespoon of flour for every cup of soup you want to make. Add more fat if needed. You need 4 tablespoons of flour for every quart of soup.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 4

Deglaze the pan with 1 or 2 cups of chicken, beef or vegetable stock when the vegetables turn dark golden brown. Scrape the pan, and stir the vegetables and flour after you add the stock.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 5

Add the escarole and a secondary ingredient. Secondary ingredients add body, color, texture and flavors that complement the main ingredient. Diced vegetables, such as potatoes and corn, and proteins, such as precooked shredded chicken, go with escarole.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 6

Add 3 to 4 cups of stock for every head of escarole; season to taste with kosher salt, fresh herbs and spices. Bring the soup to a simmer.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 7

Simmer the soup for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the escarole is tender. Adjust the consistency of the soup, if needed, with stock, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 8

Garnish the soup with freshly chopped herbs and a diced garnish. The garnish should complement the flavor or an ingredient in the soup -- a swirl of olive oil, a diced hard-boiled egg or diced bacon, for example.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 1

Heat 1 tablespoon of fat in a saucepan over medium-low heat for every cup of soup you want to make. For cream soups, use butter, olive oil or salt pork.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 2

Add 1 tablespoon of flour for every tablespoon of fat, and cook it until it turns blond. Add 1 cup of milk for every tablespoon of flour and bring it to a simmer; whisk the milk until smooth -- this will be the soup base. Set the soup base aside.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 3

Saute the aromatic base in butter or olive oil over medium-low heat in a separate saucepan until soft. Use white mirepoix -- diced leeks, onions, celery and, if desired, diced mushrooms -- for cream-based escarole soup.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 4

Add the sliced escarole; season it to taste with salt and pepper. Cook the escarole until wilted, about 10 minutes. Add the soup base to the saucepan.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 5

Bring the soup base to a simmer and add herbs and spices. Freshly chopped thyme and rosemary work well with escarole. Simmer the escarole for 20 to 25 minutes.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 6

Take the soup off the stove and puree it. Strain the puree through a strainer and then back into the saucepan.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 7

Bring the soup to a low simmer, and season it to taste. Add a few cups of sliced escarole and cook for about 10 minutes or until tender.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 8

Season the escarole cream soup a final time. Garnish it with freshly chopped herbs.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 1

Rinse one head of escarole and slice it into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Heat 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 2

Add 2 tablespoons of diced onions. Cook the onions until browned, and add the escarole and a pinch of salt.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 3

Season the escarole with salt. Cook it until wilted, about 10 minutes. Add about 1 cup of stock and continue cooking for about 15 minutes.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 4

Add 1/2 cup of arborio rice and season the stock with salt. Bring the stock to a simmer and cook the rice until al dente, about 15 minutes.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media
Step 5

Take the soup off the stove. Grate in a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.

Karen Amundson/Demand Media

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