Escarole soup with potatoes and white beans is a warming and comforting choice for a chilly winter day, served with crusty bread. Inspired by a traditional Italian recipe, this is a fantastic way to get to know an under-appreciated leafy green! Escarole looks like a slightly denser, greener version of romaine lettuce, and is a much-loved vegetable in Italian cuisine.
Escarole is a member of the chicory family, and a relative of curly endive and radicchio. Though it’s available most of the year and is usually quite inexpensive, I think of it as a winter vegetable. If you enjoy greens that are a bit of a challenge to the tooth and slightly bitter, you can add raw, thinly sliced escarole to salads in combination with milder greens.
However, I find escarole more palatable with judicious cooking. Despite its lettuce-like appearance, escarole benefits from brief cooking to temper its mildly bitter bite. It wilts down quickly in sautés, and becomes downright comforting in soups like this one, where it almost melts into the mild broth. Recipe adapted from Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 medium or 4 large potatoes, preferably russet or golden, peeled and diced
- 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
- 32-ounce carton low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas or cannellini, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium head (6 to 8 ounces) escarole, coarsely chopped and rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden, stirring frequently.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, broth, basil, thyme, and 2 cups water. Bring to a gentle boil, then cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.
- Stir in the beans, escarole, and half of the parsley. Simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the escarole is tender.
- With the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher, mash some of the potatoes in the soup to give it a nice base. Stir in water as needed (up to 2 cups). The soup should be thick, but not overly so. Return to a simmer. Stir in the remaining parsley, season with salt and pepper, then serve.
- If time allows let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or more before serving, then heat through as needed.
You can vary the soup by using kale, chard, or broccoli rabe in place of the escarole. Stem and chop the kale and chard; cut broccoli rabe into 1/2-inch segments.
Use chickpeas in place of the white beans.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 437 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 403mg Carbohydrates: 79g Fiber: 18g Sugar: 8g Protein: 16g
Photos by Susan Voisin, FatFreeVegan.com