There are few other simple pleasures that compare to a warm, bowl of homemade soup. This is particularly true as the cold winds pick up, and we do our best to stay warm. Homemade soup can sometimes take hours to prepare. When you have a winning soup recipe that takes less than one hour to prepare, you kindly pass it on to your friends!
Let’s begin, shall we? In your CSA Farm Box this week you will notice the very fluffy, crisp, broad-leafed chicory family member, escarole. This curly leafed green, grows quite large at Blue Sky Organic Farms, especially this time of year. It enjoys the cold air, and we enjoy it in our warm soup!
Moving from the outward leaves inward you will notice the shade of green changes, as well as the flavor. The slightly bitter notes of escarole tend to decrease as you move toward the center (lighter green) area of the head. We find it best to cook the outer leaves and if the center, lighter leaves are tender enough we will add them to our salads. Escarole is a good friend indeed, as it provides us with dietary fiber (16 grams per average sized head), antioxidants (carotenoid compounds), minerals (high in iron, calcium, and potassium), and a large amount of Vitamin A (more than 100% RDA), Vitamin K (60%-74% RDA), and C. Escarole is known to be one of the best sources of Vitamin K!
The leaves are versatile and can be prepared in a multitude of ways; grilled, sautéed, or in place of any leafy green. Which brings me to that quick to prepare soup you have been waiting for. It is one of my favorite recipes because it is light, flavorful, and of course, easy! I originally came across this recipe online at 3 Italian Sisters. It is an Italian soup called Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli (Escarole & Bean Soup).
Escarole & Beans (Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli) (sourced from www.3italiansisters.com)
- 1 head of Escarole, cut into bite size pieces
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin or minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ tsp. red chile flakes
- 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth or water
- 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed in cool water.
- pecorino romano cheese
- optional additions: chunks of pepperoni, sausage or soppressata, ham hock, or meatballs
Instructions (makes approximately 4 servings)
- Clean escarole leaves in large basin of water to rid greens of sand and grit.
- Rinse until all grit is gone and then chop leaves into bite size pieces.
- In a large pot, add olive oil and minced garlic and sauté for 1 min.
- Add escarole leaves, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, chicken broth or water and then
- Simmer for 5 minutes until escarole wilts.
- Add the beans and simmer for 15- 20 minutes more or until escarole is tender, add more broth if you like it soupy.. Adjust seasonings and serve.
- Sprinkle with grated pecorino cheese and large loaf of toasted Italian bread to soak up the delicious broth… Enjoy!
And, just in case soup is not your gig, here is a simple recipe for sautéing your escarole.
Sautéed Escarole with Garlic and Parmesan Cheese (sourced from theperfectpantry.com)
8 cups roughly chopped escarole
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, slivered
1/4 to 1/2 tsp mild red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or more to taste
Instructions (makes approximately 4-6 servings)
- Wash the escarole in a bowl of cold water, and spin dry in a salad spinner, leaving a little bit of water on the greens.
- In a very large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds, to infuse the oil.
- Add the escarole, in batches if necessary, stirring gently until the hot oil begins to wilt the greens. When all the escarole is in the pan, toss in the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
- Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes, until the greens are wilted and soft.
- Transfer the escarole to a serving dish, and top immediately with grated cheese.
- Serve hot.