You already know I love my soups…and the way the weather has been lately, I had a hankerin’ for something to give me that warm, cozy feeling inside. Luckily, my mother-in-law (also known as “Nanny Rose”, as you may recall if you caught this post) made this delicious soup recently that I just had to try and make myself. Even luckilier (not a word?), she gave me some leftover escarole sautéed with garlic and olive oil. What luck indeed! I was able to replicate her yummy recipe quite well, if I do so say so myself…
White Bean and Escarole Soup
6 cups water
1 large bunch of escarole (or 2 smaller ones)
1 14 oz can or package of white beans, preferably Small, but Northern will work too
1 cup of baby spinach, rinsed (optional)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp cayenne pepper (or less depending on your taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the stem section (the white part) off of the bottom, then thoroughly rinse the leafy part under cold water. Once rinsed, chop up as you would a bunch of romaine, so the pieces are not too big and not too small. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat then add the garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes or until fragrant. Next, add the escarole and spinach and mix together with the olive oil and garlic, then add the water and bring to a boil.
If you’re using canned beans, rinse them if you have not already done so, then add to the pot. Stir in the tomato paste, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring heat down to a low simmer, then cover, cooking for at least 15 minutes and up to an hour (the longer you simmer the stronger the flavors will be). Add more seasoning as needed. Serve with sharp cheese and crispy, crusty, warm bread.
I like to add extra cayenne, but if you’re serving it to people (or kids) who don’t like things to be too hot and spicy, don’t be as liberal. You can also add more tomato paste to balance it out and bring more flavor to the broth as children may find it unappealing as is. This is also a particularly garlicy soup since it has the strongest flavor of all the ingredients you’re putting in besides the cayenne, so some kids may not dig that either. To be honest, this is more of an adult soup I’d say. I offered it to Lily and she turned her nose right up at it and I could not get her to even taste it no matter how many times I offered. Poor thing had a head cold for a couple days too, but apparently it also caused her to lose her appetite. It would have been ideal for her sinuses, but all she’d eat is small amounts of fruit. If you're a vegetarian who's feeling sick, give this soup a try!
|my little sick girl :(|
For little ones with undeveloped palates, you can scoop out some of the greens and beans and mix with some small-shaped pasta, such as orzo or ditalini, topped with some Parm cheese or extra olive oil. Lily liked it that way.
Escarole is a leafy vegetable I don’t make too often. Not too many recipes come to mind when I think of it, but generally it can be used like most other greens, such as spinach and kale. It’s a little less bitter and the taste is a quite delicate when cooked, but it is still extremely versatile. After making this soup, I’d like to try some other dishes with it.
Additionally, like other greens, escarole is very good for you. It’s a type of endive (which I did not know until I looked it up) chock full of vitamins K, C, A and B, as well as a high amount of folate which helps protect against cancer. Escarole also contains a wide variety of minerals, such as magnesium, calcium and iron.
I never really looked at the Livestrong website before, but there is a lot of info on escarole there as well many other foods and the health benefits associated with them. Take a look!
Happy Meatless Monday! I hope you enjoy whatever you’re having. Link it up in the comments :)