EscaroleWilted Escarole | White Bean & Escarole Soup |
Radicchio, frisee and escarole store well in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.
Fill a large bowl or dishpan with cold water. Add greens and swirl around vigorously. All the dirt and sand will sink to the bottom. Lift greens out of basin and into a salad spinner or colander. Spin greens to dry or drain as best you can and dry on towels.
Wash the escarole, chop it across the grain (so that it doesn’t become too stringy) and toss it in a pan with only a little salt and the residual water from the leaves. Cook it over a medium flame for a few minutes to wilt it, stirring only occasionally. If you happen to forget about it and cook it longer without adding any water, it starts to caramelize and burn slightly. The result is absolutely heavenly. Season it with good olive oil at the table, and maybe a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar.
- 1 pound dry white cannellini or lima beans, or 2 cups fresh shelled barlotti beans
- 1 large yellow onion or 1 bunch leeks
- 1 head garlic
- 4 Tbsp good quality olive oil
- 2-4 bunches of black Tuscan kale or 2 heads escarole
- 2 quarts chicken stock or water (plus more water)
- 4 oz pancetta or bacon or sausage meat (optional)
- a few plum tomatoes (optional)
- 2 sprigs of rosemary or sage
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper to taste
This delicious soup of creamy beans and earthy greens is sure to take the chill out of those rainy fall evenings. Soak the beans in ample water overnight. Coarsely chop the onion and garlic. If using leeks, be sure to thoroughly wash them first by cutting a vertical slash the length of the shank and running water in between all the layers. If using bacon, cut it into ¼ inch dice. In a large, heavy bottomed soup pot (4 quart size or larger), brown the bacon or sausage meat over high heat in the olive oil. (It is also perfectly good without the meat.) Add the onions and garlic, reduce heat to medium, and sauté gently until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Throw in some chopped tomatoes if you want. Add the beans, mix thoroughly, and continue to sauté 2-3 minutes more. Add the stock or water, plus additional water to bring it about an inch above the level of the beans. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to very low and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Meanwhile, wash and chop the greens, removing the midrib from the kale if desired. Taste the beans at this point, if they’re almost ready, add the chopped greens and continue to simmer about a half an hour more. When done, add the salt, at least 1 heaping tablespoonful, and the pepper. For maximum warming effect, serve over steaming hot polenta with a glass of red wine.