Category Archives: Soups

Escarole & Beans

Escarole and beans is an Italian classic, except in my house it’s more like–‘shcarole and beans. Escarole, for those not familiar with it, is like something between romaine lettuce and Bok Choy…it’s really good, I promise.  This is the type of soup where you sop up the juices with a big ol’ chunk of crusty artisan bread and then go back for more. It’s all good though because it’s healthy, and we like healthy…sometimes.

Serves: ~6-8
Total time: ~30mins

Get yourself:

  • 2 Heads escarole
  • 2 Cans or 4 cups Cannellini beans (drained)
  • 2 Cloves fresh garlic (If only using fresh, 5 cloves sliced thin)
  • 8 Cloves roasted garlic (If you haven’t roasted garlic yet, now might be the time)
  • 1 Can plum tomatoes
  • 1 C Chicken broth (Pacific Organic; it has great flavor)
  • 1 C Beef broth (Same brand as chicken)
  • 1 C reserved tomato juice
  • 1 C Water
  • .5 C Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5t Kosher salt
  • 1t Black pepper
  • 1 Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • .5 Box Ditalini pasta
  • Pecorino Romano for the finish

The most laborious part of this dish is cleaning the escarole. Seriously, I don’t know what it is with this stuff but it’s like it gets sprayed with dirt before it’s shipped out. Fill your sink with cold water, discard discolored and broken leaves, and toss into the water. Swoosh it all around to loosen the dirt and rinse each leaf.

Fill a big ass pot with ~2″ water, break up your escarole and toss in

Bring flame to medium heat and cover

Escarole will wilt down…

…and shrink, a lot!

Drain in a colander and if you have a spinner then spin some of the water off

Prep your garlic

Don’t you dare skimp on the garlic…

and seriously, if you haven’t roasted garlic yet, you should…

the mellow roasted garlic flavor disperses throughout the broth and makes the dish 10x better

Add the red pepper, fresh, and mashed roasted garlic to the olive oil

Saute for a couple mins over medium heat

While the garlic does its thing…

Grab those tomatoes and drain the juice off into a bowl

Crush tomatoes by hand while dodging the juice that squirts out

Toss the escarole and tomatoes into the pot and stir

Sprinkle a little of that salt and pepper on

Add in all of your broth, tomato juice, and water

Break open your beans

If you’re a bean connoisseur and prefer fresh beans, well, that’s your problem…

The canned ones are perfect and probably even preferable in this dish

Drain the bean juice

Toss ’em in

Stir it up

Add the rest of the salt and pepper

Taste, say mmmmmmm…

Bring to a simmer for ~10 mins

Add 1/2 a box of Ditalini pasta directly to the soup

Raise flame to medium and let pasta cook for ~10mins or until al dente

Taste for salt and pepper

Don’t add garlic powder, please.

There she is ladies and gentlemen…

‘Scharole and beans

Top with freshly grated Pecorino Romano and cracked black pepper

Tear off a fat chunk of Italian bread

Sit at the table in a white v-neck tee and mangia!

In the words of my girl Lidia Bastianich…

“TUTTI A TAVOLA, A MANGIARE!”
“Everyone (come) to the table, to eat”

p.s. there’s plenty of leftovers if you’re only two people…

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup, actually, has nothing to do with weddings. The name was born out of a misunderstanding of the Italian translation minestra maritata–married soup, referring to the joining together of meat and veggies. It might not have anything to do with weddings, but HOLY Mary, Jesus, and Joseph is this soup good. Mazel Tov. I’m talking, you’re halfway through the bowl and realize your almost done and say to yourself, “slow down” kinda good.

I drew inspiration for my version of Italian Wedding Soup from Ina Garten and memories of meals past. I decided to make some significant tweaks which, from the sounds and expressions coming from my Wife and friend Mike, lead me to believe were successful.

This soup is hearty, healthy, and perfect on a cold winter evening. Serve up with a generous sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano, a couple twists of the ‘ol pepper mill, some crusty bread, and a big glass of vino!

–Recipe Pictorial–

Here I use the cross hatch technique for dicing onions, pronto

Mash your roasted garlic into a paste

Add to your EVOO+butter

Sauté 1 min

Then throw in your chopped carrots, onion, and celery and sauté for 10 mins covered. Stir after 5

Veggies will be tender

Now, add all of your stock and wine

Bring to a boil for 1 min. Reduce to simmer

Then, add the tomatoes. Crush with back of wooden spoon in pot

Toss in your bay leaf and tomato paste, stir

Now’s a good time to add s&p, taste

After tasting decide if you need a lil garlic powder

Simmer for 10mins, uncovered

Toss in a bunch of those lil round meatballs and stir

Cook for, you guessed it, 1min

Now, dump carefully add pasta to hot simmering broth and cook to al dente, about 6 mins

Stir! Or pasta will stick to bottom of pot

Pasta will thicken the soup. Add a little water to thin

Hey, I said it was hearty

Go nuts with the spinach, add as much or as little as you want

Simmer until spinach wilts, don’t over cook it

Taste and adjust for seasoning

I added a little salt and more crushed black pepper at this point

Go grab some nice deep bowls and plate

I garnished with grated Pecorino, fresh parsley, and more crushed black pepper

Scoop, moan, exclaim your love for me…repeat.

When you here the sound of silverware hitting porcelain, Go for seconds!

–Ingredients–

4C Beef Broth

4C Chicken Broth (I use Pacific Organic from Costco for both broths)

1C Chopped carrots (I used baby carrots. I have a giant bag. Note- don’t buy carrots at Costco)

1C Yellow onion diced

2 Celery stalks

8 Cloves roasted garlic OR 3-4 cloves minced fresh garlic

1 28oz can San Marzano plum tomatoes

1T Tomato paste

1/4t garlic powder

1 Bay leaf

2t Kosher salt

2T EVOO + 1T Butter

1/4 C Dry Sherry cooking wine

1lb Ditalini pasta

1/2 Bag chicken and sweet basil meatballs (Costco) or make a quick batch of little meatballs and bake

1 Bag baby spinach

Chopped fresh parsley

Pecorino Romano

Crushed black pepper

Crushed red pepper (optional)

This soup is hearty, healthy, and perfect on a cold winter evening. Serve up with a generous sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano, a couple twists of the ‘ol pepper mill, some crusty bread, and a big glass of vino!