I miss the show Mad Hungry. Lucinda Scalla Quinn seemed to have her finger on the pulse of how America cooks. While I haven’t picked up her book, her recipes on the show spanned the simple to complex, healthy to decadent, cultural specialties and heritage recipes. Kind of like the recipe box of everyone I know.
I fell in love with the Escarole & White Bean Soup, a recipe of her friend, Gloria’s Grandmother’s Soup. I tinkered a bit and posted it, then began to tinker more. Honestly, I was looking for a bit more depth of flavor and didn’t mind a little more chopping. So if you’ve tried this recipe before, please take another look.
Escarole is a green not always available in my area, and when it is, it’s expensive. Kale, though, another sturdy green is a great substitute. A few changes, like a good stock and dried beans also fabulously frugalize this simple soup, while other changes add more flavor.
The trick with Kale is to use it fresh! It should be bright and colorful and crisp – if it’s a dull green, it’s on its way out – it reduces quickly in size and the taste becomes bitter. Watch the color, too, as the soup cooks. I give the rest of the soup a head start and add the kale in last so it retains it’s freshness, keeping in mind as the soup is done, the kale will continue to steam a bit.
I like to serve this with Parmesan Toast, an old family favorite.
White Bean & Kale Soup
- 3 cups cooked (one cup dried) cannelloni or white beans (or two 15 ounce cans, drained)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 carrots, large dice
- 1 stalk celery, large dice
- 1 medium-sized yellow onion or 1/2 large, large dice
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 a pound of winter squash like butternut, acorn, etc., diced into 1/2 inch pieces, about 1 1/2 cups
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth (or two 15.5 ounce cans)
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 1 bunch of kale, 2 to 3 stalks, stemmed & roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 thick slices country bread
- Additional clove of garlic, halved
- Additional 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- Parmesan cheese, vinegar & additional olive oil for serving
To wash kale: Fill a large basin with water, and add kale and swish; drain and rinse well. Roughly chop.
If using dried beans, soak overnight, drain and simmer in five to six cups of water for about 40 to 45 minutes until tender. Drain.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring until softened, five to six minutes. Use a bit of water if vegetables become too dry. Add in the minced garlic and continue to cook for a moment.
Add in 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock. Place the remaining stock and one cup of beans in the blender (reserving the rest of the beans) and blend until pureed. Add the blended beans to the soup along with the squash, oregano and red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add kale. Continue simmering until squash is nearly tender, about 10 more minutes.
Add beans and heat through, taste and adjust seasoning add salt and pepper as desired.
While soup cooks, prepare croutons. Rub the top of each slice of bread with the cut ends of the halved garlic clove. Drizzle each toast with a teaspoon of olive oil. Place under broiler for several minutes until the top is lightly browned and crunchy.
- Place bread in the bottom of the bowl (or serve on the side), ladle the soup over and serve with a few shavings of Parmesan over the top.
- Pass vinegar, red, white or balsamic and olive oil for those who wish to drizzle over the top of the soup.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read Strategies for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
For soup, not counting bread and cheese which will vary: Calories 406, Cal from fat 183 (remember this is high in fat, but it is olive oil – full of Omega threes – reduce the amount if you’re concerned) tot fat 20g; sat fat 3g; chol 0mg, transfat none; sod 551 (this will be greatly reduced if you make homemade) tot carb 41, fib 11g; sug .55g; prot 15g.
Put Your Own Spin on It:
This soup as it stands is a simple country soup – “comfort” food – but you can take this in a lot of several directions:
- You can use escarole like the original recipe stated, or another green of your choice. If you use something less hardy, like spinach, drop it in at the last moment and cook for just a moment or two.
- Add canned tomatoes with the juice instead of part of the stock, or diced fresh tomatoes.
- You can flavor this with basil, rosemary and lots of garlic, maybe some balsamic vinegar.
- If you like a heartier soup, you can saute Italian sausage at the beginning, remove it and continue, then add it back in when it’s time to simmer.
- If you’re a vegetarian, just use vegetable broth.
Recipe made June 2012, reworked and repriced September 2014.