Thursday, February 26, 2015

3 Bean Escarole Soup with Garlic Oil & Homemade Croutons

Growing up my mom would make what my grandfather & father would call ’scroll & beans. For those not familiar with this language ‘scarole means escarole. If you’ve never had escarole I encourage you to try. It’s actually a lettuce but it tastes really good, almost sweet, when it’s cooked. I’ve always had it in chicken broth with canellini beans, grated cheese & crusty bread so when I found this recipe I channeled my youth & conjured up my take on this classic (to me) combination. I used three different kinds of beans because I didn’t have three cans of cannellini beans, so if you want to stick to one kind - go for it! You can skip the croutons & extra cheese if you like - but why would you want to do that? This is a quick & satisfying dinner especially while this weather continues to flirt with spring (it was 37 degrees yesterday & I think that’s pretty close to spring - today not so much.)

PS: For those observing Lent this will be a great meatless dish for your Friday dinner. Enjoy!

PPS: if you're gluten-free - skip my beloved croutons!

Soup Ingredients (adapted from Food & Wine's Cannellini & Escarole Soup with Garlic Oil Recipe by Grace Parisi:

  • 1 small head of escarole, coarsely chopped (I buy the pre-washed & cut kind in a bag - if you can't find it at your super market substitute some fresh baby spinach in)
  • 4 garlic cloves—1 minced, 3 crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained & rinsed
  • 2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, separated
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Crouton Ingredients:
  • 3-4 thick slices of day old bread, I used ciabatta
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Make the soup!
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet.
  2. Add the escarole, minced garlic and crushed red pepper and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until the escarole wilts, about 2 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, using an immersion blender (or a blender or food processor) puree half of the beans with the chicken stock until smooth.
  4. Add the pureed & whole beans, & 1 1/2 cups of water to the saucepan & bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook until the escarole is tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, cook the crushed garlic in the oil over moderate heat until golden; discard the garlic.
  7. Drizzle the soup with the garlic oil and sprinkle with the Pecorino.

Make the croutons!
  1. Pre-heat broiler.
  2. Cut the bread into 1/2 inch cubes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl toss with olive oil, salt & pepper.
  4. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet (don’t over lap).
  5. Broil for 2 minutes & then shake the cookie sheet so that all sides have a chance to brown.
  6. Broil for a few more minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Let the croutons cool so you can handle them (snacking is encouraged).
  8. Top soup with crusty croutons.

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