Sunday, November 17, 2013
That's what my husband exclaimed when I told him I was making escarole and bean soup for dinner ("'scarole and beans," as he says, Italian fellow that he is). (Apparently "bellywash" is how his father referred to this simple soup, which is peasant comfort food at its best.)
Now, I love this soup not only because it's homey, delicious and healthy, but because it really is the easiest soup in the culinary universe to prepare. Here's how I do it:
About 6 cups organic low-sodium free range chicken stock
Escarole - 2 medium heads
Garlic - 3 large cloves, chopped
2 cans organic cannellini beans
1 tbs olive oil
Salt to taste
Wash escarole thoroughly, chop and set aside in a large bowl. In a large Dutch oven, add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add escarole and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. (It will look like a lot of escarole, but have no fear, it will cook waaaaayy down).
While the escarole is simmering, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium low heat. When the oil is hot, add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add beans with liquid, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the escarole has cooked down and is nice and soft, add bean mixture. Finish with salt and a zap of lemon juice, to taste.
Ladle into a big bowl and top with a generous heap of parmesan reggiano.
Serve with nice, crusty whole grain bread.
It's not fancy, but a really nice, simple meal to warm the belly on a cold winter day.
You can easily make it vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock and eliminating the cheese. Conversely, meat lovers will enjoy the addition of sausage or even chopped pepperoni (I found a delicious uncured pepperoni in my local supermarket. Even I like it--and I usually hate pepperoni.) Just be sure to use the best quality, richest stock you can find. This soup really demands that for depth of flavor.
Now, my behind-the-scenes (or should I say "behind-the-beans??) confession:
I only had one can of beans on hand, but had a container of small white beans in the freezer which I had soaked overnight and cooked up last week. (BTW, overnight soaking is my preferred method for dried bean preparation, but I realize that not everyone has the time or inclination.) Since I didn't need all the beans I didn't want to thaw the entire container. So, in my infinite wisdom, what did I decide to do? Hack at the frozen mass with a knife! Not a great idea. The tiny rock-hard beans flew up in the air and landed all over the floor.
Did I stop cooking and pick them up? Heck, no. I kept on keeping' on….that is until I stepped on one (Did I mention I was wearing slippers?), which resulted in a skating move that almost landed me flat on my back. (Kristi Yamaguchi, you've got nothin' on me!)
Ok, I confess…I am not a patient, organized or neat cook. Goop flies everywhere; I make a godawful mess. Oh well, as long as dinner tastes good, it's worth it!
Are you a neat cook? If so, I want to hear from you. Help!
Ciao for now,