This soup is the perfect antidote to the cold and blustery weather we are having in New York. It’s….blizzard-worthy.
I melded a few different white bean and escarole soup recipes and created this one and am very happy with the results. It’s hearty and filling, however, it’s not thick and overwhelming. It still maintains a thin consistancy. The flavors are wonderful, the rosemary, sage and pancetta really do wonders to this soup, providing a delicious depth of flavor. Whenever I have a parmesan rind leftover I dump it in the pot, however, it’s not mandatory for this soup. If you don’t have it, don’t fret, just omit it. This soup is relatively quick and easy to prepare yet tastes as if you have been slaving over it for hours.
Aside from those few slabs of pancetta I mentioned, this is a healthy soup. The beans and escarole provide us with a healthy dose of folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A and K. Escarole is a great, hearty green we can incorporate more into our diets, perhaps when we get tired of always grabbing swiss chard and kale.
You will have to skim the soup once or twice during the cooking time and you will need to take out the food processor to puree some of the beans but it is worth that small effort. This soup really is very tasty, so make a big pot and keep it in the fridge so you can treat yourself to a big bowl of heaven once you come in from the snow.
Here’s what you will need to make a big pot…
2-3 thick slices pancetta (roughly 1/4 inch thick)
1 large onion, quartered
3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 sprig sage
1 large sprig rosemary
3 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
1 head of escarole, chopped
salt & pepper
parmesan rind (optional)
In a large stock pot over medium heat add a few tablespoons of olive oil, pancetta, onions, sage, rosemary and red pepper flakes. After 2-3 minutes, add the garlic. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring the ingredients and turning the pancetta occasionally. Remove the rosemary and sage.
Add the drained beans, chicken stock , cheese rind (not necessary) pepper and a pinch of salt (keep in mind the pancetta is salty), bring to a boil. This is usually the first time I need to skim the soup to discard some of the fat that surfaces on the top, so go ahead and skim. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for approximately 20 minutes. Skim again if need be.
With a large slotted spoon remove the pancetta, onions, garlic and 3/4 of the beans, reserving in a bowl or tray. Pull out the pancetta and set aside. Remove some of the larger pieces of onions and discard. Put all remaining onions, garlic and reserved beans in a food processor, add 2 tablspoons of olive oil, one ladle full of broth from the soup pot and salt & pepper. Puree. Add pureed bean mixture back to the pot and stir to combine. Continue to simmer.
Meanwhile, chop up all the pancetta into a small dice and add them to the pot of soup. Add chopped escarole and allow to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until wilted.
Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy alone or with a chunky piece of toasted bread.