Potato and escarole soup is incredibly warming and comforting. A classic Italian variation that calls for sausage is so easy to make vegan, using any of the great plant-based sausage brands available. As is often the case with escarole soups, this one has an almost buttery scent and flavor.
Plant-based sausage and white beans join forces to make this a high-protein main dish soup that’s delicious served with fresh bread.
Vegan sausage brands: Amy’s, Beyond, Field Roast, Gardein, Morningstar Farms, No Evil, Tofurky, and The Very Good Butchers all make excellent vegan sausage. You may find store brands as well. They’re all good! Don’t worry about “how the sausage gets made,” as the saying goes, as the main ingredients are usually vital wheat gluten and/or tofu (be alert, though, if you have gluten or soy sensitivity).
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. See more about the chicory vegetables, the group to which escarole belongs.
Swap in chard: Escarole is great in soups, but to vary the recipe, you can substitute chard (another favorite leafy green in Italian cuisine). Use an equivalent amount (about 8 ounces) of green chard, leaves chopped and stems thinly sliced.
Recipe adapted from Plant-Powered Protein by Nava Atlas. Photos of the soup by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin, divided
- 14-ounce package vegan sausage (4 links), sliced about 1/2 inch thick
- 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 medium golden or red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and diced
- 4 cups water
- 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
- 14-ounce can fire-roasted or Italian-style diced tomatoes
- 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 medium head (about 8 ounces) escarole, coarsely chopped and rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat half of the oil in a medium skillet. Add the sausage and sauté over medium heat until lightly browned on most sides. Cover and set aside until needed.
- Heat the remaining 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, water, bouillon cubes, tomatoes, and beans. Bring to a slow boil, then turn the heat down and simmer gently until the potatoes are nearly done, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the escarole and half of the parsley, then turn the heat down, cover, and simmer gently for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the escarole is just tender and the potatoes are done.
- Add more water as needed. The soup should be dense, but not overly crowded. Add the remaining parsley, then season with salt and pepper. Stir in the reserved sausage.
- If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or so to develop flavor. Heat through as needed before serving. Otherwise, serve at once.
Variation: Use an equivalent amount of green chard, leaves chopped and stems thinly sliced.
If you like escarole soup, you might also enjoy this variation:
See lots more delicious vegan soups & stews.