Bean & Escarole Soup

By Evie
November 11, 2012
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Author Notes: I have to own up to stealing this recipe a couple of months ago from my friend, Dave Cook. Like all simple dishes, it relies on good quality ingredients. For the 'beans' element, I prefer to soak and cook dried ones for this soup but you could use the bottled Spanish Alubia beans which come in excellent cooking stock. The 'greens' in this recipe is escarole, a broad-leaved endive which looks a bit like a large, frilly romaine or cos lettuce but it is a bit more robust. Escarole is sweeter and less bitter than its endive relatives. You could use something like turnip tops (cima di rapa) if you blanch them in boiling salted water for a minute or two first then plunge into cold water to retain the colour. As I had some turnip tops, this is what I used for the soup photographed. Evie

Serves: 4

  • Half pound dried white beans, such as cannelloni
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stick
  • Half onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1-2 small dried chillies, de-seeded and crumbled
  • A handful of basil leaves, torn
  • A handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 escarole leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 ounces grated parmesan, plus more to serve
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water.
  2. Drain beans and discard the water. Bring to the boil in a large pan of fresh water with the whole carrot, celery stick and half onion.
  3. Boil fast for 10 minutes to remove toxins, skim off impurities then reduce to a simmer for an hour or more (depending on freshness of the beans).
  4. When the beans are soft, discard the vegetables. Remove a quarter of the beans, puree and then return them to the pan. This will thicken the soup and give it a silky texture.
  5. Fry the garlic and chilli in olive oil and cook without browning. Add the basil, parsley and escarole and cook for 1 minute to wilt.
  6. Add all to the beans pot. Add grated parmesan and salt and pepper. and serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and shavings of extra parmesan.

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