There’s a recipe for “White Bean and Escarole Soup” floating around the internet that I’ve used for years. I think it originally appeared in Real Simple in 2009 but now it’s showing up on the Food Network website.
This is a simple soup with complex flavors: bitter from the wilted escarole, sweet from the canned tomatoes, smoky from the bacon and salty from the Cannellini beans. When I was a poor intern I’d eat a can of Cannellini beans with olive oil and salt for lunch most days, topped with a packet of oregano stolen from a pizza shop.
White Bean and Escarole Soup
This is one of those recipes that I’ve made so many times that it FEELS like my own, but in fact it’s very closely based on this one from the Food Network
2 1/8 inch slices pancetta (or 2/3 cup cubed)*
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups escarole leaves, roughly chopped
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained roughly chopped
1 14 oz. can Cannellini beans, drained
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups chicken broth
- Cube the pancetta into 1/4 inch pieces.
- Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes. It will cook in its own fat and brown nicely. Remove to a bowl just as it starts to burn.
- As soon as you remove the pancetta, add the olive oil, onions, oregano and garlic to the pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes until translucent.
- Add the escarole and sauté until it wilts, about 3 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, broth, beans and salt to the pot. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Serve with a slice of crusty bread.
*you can buy it cubed or just ask your butcher or deli counter to slice a thick piece for you and cube it yourself.