Escarole, Sweet Italian Sausage, and Cannellini Bean Soup

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This is a wonderful, hearty soup that really highlights our organic escarole greens.  While you may also use spinach in this recipe we really appreciate the slight bitterness of escarole, and if added just a couple of minutes before serving the white ribs of the escarole leaves will retain their crispness, adding a bit of crunch to contrast the creaminess of the beans.

By the way, if you use canned beans you can make this soup in 30 minutes from start to finish!

The photographs and original recipe were contributed by Ray Toves, a Sarasota-based chef and food photographer. 

Preparation Time:  15 minutes (if using canned beans)

Cooking Time:  15 minutes

Serves: 4 (as an entree); 8 (as a soup course)

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads of escarole, washed and cut into 1-2 inch segments
  • 4-6 links of sweet Italian sausage (remove the casings and discard them), cut into 1-inch segments
  • 2 cans organic cannellini beans
  • 1-quart low-sodium, organic chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 (or more) cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-3 segments Parmesan Reggiano rind (if available) (see Note below)
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan Reggiano (in soup if rind not available) (see Note below)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Crush red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan Reggiano for garnish (but be careful as you may end up over salting your soup)

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Preparation:

  • Remove and discard outer, possibly discolored leaves of the heads of escarole.
  • Wash, drain and cut the escarole into 1-2 inch segments.
  • Pour canned beans into a colander, rinse, and drain; set aside.
  • Dice 1 medium-sized yellow onion; set aside.
  • Mince garlic; set aside.
  • Remove the outer casings of the sausage and cut the sausage into 1-inch segments; set aside.

Cooking:

  • Heat large soup pot on medium-high.  When hot, add the evoo and sausage segments, cook until browned on all sides.  (about 5-7 minutes)
  • Remove sausage using slotted spoon.
  • Remove all but one tablespoon of rendered fat from pot.
  • Add onions, cook until translucent.
  • Add garlic, cook about 1 minutes.
  • Return sausage to the pot.
  • Add the chicken stock, water, beans, and red pepper flakes (if desired).
  • Add the parmesan Reggiano rind/s (or grated if rind not available), and red pepper flakes if desired; cook for 10 minutes.
    • Note:   At this point, you’re probably going to take a taste and think that it needs salt but DO NOT add salt because as the rind (or grated cheese)  cooks it will begin to release it’s salt (and it is salty).  Let the soup cook for the 10 minutes then…
  • Remove rind/s.
  • Season to taste with black pepper.
  • Season to taste with kosher salt, if needed, you may not.
  • Add escarole pieces no more than 1-2 minutes before serving.
    • This way they will retain their color and crispness.
  • The soup is ready!

Enjoy!

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