Here’s a quick and easy dish, typical of the Campania region of Italy, that is a cold weather weeknight staple at our house: escarole and bean soup.
- 1 small head of escarole, cut into fine ribbons
- 1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 450g (15 oz) boiled or canned cannellini or borlotti beans
- Water or broth, to cover
- Salt, to taste
To finish the dish:
- 1 slice of good, crusty bread, even better if homemade
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
You begin, as always, with a soffrittoby sweating a thinly sliced onion in olive oil until translucent, then add a small head of escarole, sliced into very fine ribbons. Cover and allow the escarole to reduce, mixing from time to time so they absorb the flavor of the soffritto.
Then add the boiled or canned cannellini or borlotti beans, along with enough water or broth to cover the ingredients. Cover and allow to simmer until the escarole and beans are quite soft, about 15-20 minutes. If, like me, you like a thick soup, then along the way crush some of the beans with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot.
Place slices of day old bread, either toasted or fried in olive oil if you like, in the bottom of your soup bowls, then pour the soup over. Drizzle with un filo d’olio, top with a generous grinding of black pepper and serve.
If you like a little heat, you can add some red pepper flakes to the soffritto. For a bit more assertive taste, make the soffritto with garlic, either instead of or along with the onion. And for a meatier dish, you can add some pancetta and/or cook the soffritto in lard instead of olive oil. And if you would like your soup in rosso, add a bit of tomato purée after the soffritto is done, allowing it to reduce before you add your escarole. Some recipes call for blanching and squeezing the escarole dry before adding it to the pot, but I find this unnecessary.