Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cannellini and Escarole Soup

Cannellini and Escarole Soup

Whether you prepare Consommé, Bisque, Chowder or just Soup, you’re making something that just about everyone loves. 
Some soups, especially intense and clarified consommés or rich and creamy bisques are usually served as one of several courses in a meal. Others are equally appropriate occupying the “soup course” or as the star of the meal. 

This is one of those soups that serve as a complete meal - it’s hardy without being heavy and when served with a fresh loaf of crusty bread, a few crisp greens and some fruit no one will be looking for anything else to come out of the kitchen.

Don’t save this recipe just for cold weather. It’s a wonderful and satisfying preparation that like any soup is a labor of love and should be served at any time of the year.

Cannellini and Escarole Soup
Yield: 6 Servings     Preparation Time: 1½  Hours     Cooking Time: 15 Minutes


• ¾ Cup Dried Cannellini Beans, soaked for 8 hours
• 1 Large Bay Leaf
• 1 Pound Campari Tomatoes
• Olive Oil
• Kosher Salt
• Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• 1 Pound Fresh Escarole, washed and drained
• 2 Cloves Garlic, mashed with ¼ teaspoon of salt
• 4 Cups Chicken Stock, homemade or store bought low-sodium
• 2 Cups Dry Bow Tie Pasta
• 4 Ounces Parmesan Cheese, grated

Preparation Steps

Step 1. Drain and rinse the soaked beans and place them with the bay leaf in a large sauce pan along with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, skim off the foam and reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours until tender.

Step 2. Preheat oven to 275ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Step 3. Cut the tomatoes in half through the stem end and place, cut side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle each tomato with about ¼ teaspoon of olive oil and a few grains of salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour and let cool on the baking sheet, then cut each tomato half in half again to make quarters.

Step 4. Trim the escarole and stack the leaves in a few piles. Roll a pile of leaves into a tight bundle and cut into 1” chiffonade. Set aside.

Step 5. Set a 3 quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic and sauté for just about 30 seconds. Add the escarole and sauté for 2 minutes until wilted.

Step 6. Add the chicken stock and roasted tomatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer. Drain the beans then stir them into the simmering stock along with half of the cheese and the pasta. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt if desired. If the pasta has absorbed too much of the liquid, add more chicken stock, 1 cup at a time until the right balance is achieved.

Serve in individual bowls garnished with the remaining cheese topped with a drizzle of olive oil. Crusty bread is the best accompaniment to soak up the last bit of soup from the bottom of the bowl.

Tips and Trending

~ If Cannellini beans are not available you can substitute Great Northern beans but they will not be as creamy and will lack the nutty flavor of the cannellini beans. Whichever bean you choose, do not add salt to the water when cooking the beans after soaking, they will not soften.

~ Discarding the water used to soak the beans and rinsing them well will eliminate most of the oligosaccharides that cause “wind”. I add Bay leaves when pre-cooking beans as in this recipe to further reduce some of the gas inducing properties of the beans.

~ You can also substitute mature Spinach for the Escarole. Avoid baby spinach for this recipe. Although wonderful in salads, it’s too delicate to stand up to sautéing and simmering.

~ Although the actual cooking time for this soup is only a few minutes, the preparation time is quite long. However, using your own homemade stock, roasting the tomatoes and starting with dried beans makes a really satisfying soup, both in taste and the feeling of accomplishment it gives to know you’ve created something this good. You can prepare the time intensive ingredients ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for a few days and then assemble the soup as in Steps 4 & 5 in a matter of minutes. Or you can reach for canned beans (make sure you drain and rinse away all that gooey syrup!), canned roasted tomatoes and packaged stock. Just please, please read the labels and select those with the minimal additives.

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