How to Prepare Italian Escarole & Bean Soup

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Escarole and bean soup is a healthy and hearty dish true to southern Italian cuisine, which emphasizes simplicity. Cannellini beans, which are white kidney beans with a creamy texture, are loaded with fiber and iron. Escarole, a leafy green with a slightly bitter flavor, is rich in vitamins A and C and other nutrients such as magnesium and potassium. Escarole grows late into the year, and some cooks describe this soup as a winter dish. It is, however, easy to prepare any time of the year.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 cups of dried cannellini beans
  • 1 head of escarole
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • Virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8-qt. pot
  • Large bowl
  • Place the dried cannellini beans in a large bowl and cover with several inches of water. Store the bowl in a refrigerator and allow the beans to soak for about six hours. When they are tender, drain the water and rinse the beans. Return them to the bowl, cover them with fresh, cool water and set aside.

  • Rinse and trim the escarole. Chop the leaves into large pieces and set aside.

  • Cover the bottom of the pot with generous layer of virgin olive oil. Gently saute the minced garlic and chopped onion. When the onion is translucent, add the escarole and cook until the leaves are soft.

  • Add about 2 qts. of water and bring to a boil. Add the cannellini beans and salt and pepper to taste. Boil for about five minutes, reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Add a shake of crushed red pepper if desired.

  • Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle about 3/4 of a tsp. of olive oil over each serving. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and serve.

Tips & Warnings

  • Instead of soaking cannellini beans for six hours, cooks can boil dried beans for about five minutes and leave them to soak for about 90 minutes or until tender. Soaking can be eliminated entirely by substituting dried beans for two 15-oz. cans of cannellini beans. Rinse the beans before adding them to the soup.

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