THE BASIL IS STARTING TO TURN YELLOW, TOMATOES ARE STARTING TO SHOW SIGNS OF ROT AND CILANTRO HAS ALL BUT GIVEN UP ON LIFE. THE ABUNDANCE OF SUMMER PRODUCE IS STARTING TO FADE. BUT NO NEED TO WORRY, THE FALL DISHES WE LOVE ARE STARTING TO SHOW THEIR DELICIOUS FACES.
WHEN THE TEMPERATURES DROP, NOTHING IS BETTER THAN THE KITCHEN SMELLS OF A SLOW SIMMERING SOUP. AND WHY NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PRODUCE AVAILABLE THIS TIME OF YEAR?!?! THIS RECIPE FOR ESCAROLE AND BEANS SOUP NOT ONLY BRINGS ME BACK TO A DISH OF MY CHILDHOOD BUT IT ALSO USES FRESH SEASONAL INGREDIENTS. ESCAROLE, A MEMBER OF THE CHICORY FAMILY, IS A SLIGHTLY BITTER GREEN THAT PAIRS WELL WITH THE SWEETNESS OF THE CARROTS AND ONIONS AND RICHNESS OF THE CANNELLINI BEANS. THIS DISH CAN PREPARED IN SO MANY WAYS SO USE YOUR IMAGINATION AND WHAT IS ON HAND. THIS RECIPE CALLS FOR SAUSAGE BUT YOU CAN ALSO SUBSTITUTE HAM, PANCETTA OR NO MEAT AT ALL, TOTALLY UP TO YOU! ANOTHER DELICIOUS OPTION IS TO ADD SOME FRESH CHOPPED TOMATOES, MIGHT AS WELL USE THE LAST OF YOUR HARVEST BEFORE THEY GO BAD!
ESCAROLE, SAUSAGE AND BEANS SOUP
1 Onion, peeled and chopped
1 Carrot, peeled and chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin
½ Head of Escarole, thoroughly cleaned and rough chopped
1 lb. Hot or Sweet Italian Sausage, removed from the casings
2 - 15 oz. Cans of Cannellini Beans, drained
4 Cups of Chicken Stock (more may be needed)
Red Chili Flake
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, to taste
In a deep pot over medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and then the sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage and brown. Remove the sausage and set aside.
In the same pan, add a little more oil if needed and add the onions and carrots. When the onions are translucent, add the sliced garlic and a pinch of chili flakes. When the garlic is just starting to brown, add ONE can of the beans and saute for a minute or so. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Add the other can of cannellini beans to a medium saucepan with enough water to cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Add to a blender and puree the beans (be careful as hot liquid in a blender can be messy and dangerous!) Add this puree to the soup pot along with the escarole and reserved sausage.
Cook the soup for about 1 hour partially covered. Taste for seasoning and serve with grated parmesan.
SOME OTHER OPTIONS YOU ADD TO THE SOUP THAT WOULD BE GREAT:
- Put a parmesan rind into the soup while it cooks to add a rich, cheesy flavor to the stock
- Garnish with chopped parsley
- Substitute pork sausage with chicken or turkey sausage for a healthier option
- A squeeze of lemon right before serving add a bright acidity to the soup
- Substitute kale or swiss chard....or just add all of them!