Escarole and beans soup is an old traditional Italian recipe, and this will bring up memories of Grandma’s old cooking to many Italian descendants, all over the world. As some of you probably remember, this hearty and healthy bean soup is usually made using Cannellini beans, an Italian variety of white kidney beans, which can be found in many grocery stores already cooked and ready to add to your favorite recipe. However, although less creamy in texture, regular white kidney beans can also be used as a good substitute for cannellini, if these are not carried by your local grocery store.
Vegetables and beans recipes, from Pasta e Fagioli to any variation of Minestrone, have always been - and still are - a big part of the Italian cuisine, which is traditionally based on a healthy and balanced variety of ingredients, rather than just on pasta, tomato sauce, meat and cheese, as too many “so called” Italian restaurants around the world present it, often with an exaggerated amount of garlic added to everything. And while nowadays the supreme task for any chef is being able to please the different palates and appetites of his diverse patrons – who doesn’t likes pasta and meat sauce after all? – real good Italian food is also made of simple recipes like this.
Escarole and Beans Ingredients and Instructions:
- 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 head of escarole, about 1 pound
- 2 15 ounce cans of Cannellini beans
- 1 cup of water
- Grated Parmigiano cheese
- Salt and black pepper
- Sourdough bread, sliced
1. Wash and cut the escarole in rather thin pieces; let any excess of water dry on a towel or paper cloth, as water and hot oil are not the best of friends when meeting in a pot.
2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, pour the olive oil and let it heat up, making sure that it covers the bottom. Add the sliced garlic and the red pepper flakes, and sauté just for about one minute, until the garlic starts getting slightly golden – but make sure it doesn’t burn.
3. Add the chopped escarole, stir and let it get well coated with the oil. Sauté for a few minutes until the escarole becomes wilted, stirring from time to time.
4. Drain the beans, pour in and stir, then add a cup of water and lower the heat. Add just a small pinch of salt and black pepper, preferably freshly ground, and let simmer for about five minutes. Taste again, and correct salt and pepper as needed.
5. Serve warm, dividing the soup in four bowls, adding to each one just a small drizzle of olive oil and a generous tablespoon of grated Parmigiano cheese. Bring to the table with slices of sourdough or other rustic bread, either plain or slightly toasted.