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Escarole and White Bean Soup

Escarole and White Bean Soup

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Arthur Bovino

Arthur's escarole and white bean soup.

Some people put carrots in their escarole soup. They're probably all fine and good recipes. I wouldn't know, I've been trying to replicate Mom's for about 10 years and hers doesn't have any of that fancy stuff — doesn't need it.

Its main components are escarole, onion, garlic, chicken stock, and cannellini beans. It's kind of the ideal soup because it's heartwarming but thin — so it works year-round. It will fill you up, but you don't feel heavy after eating it — just satisfied. The beans kind of leak out their starchiness, thickening it a little once the soup has had a chance to sit.

A tablespoon of red pepper flakes while it's cooking gives it a little edge, and sprinkle of Parmesan to finish once you've ladled it out is the perfect finish. It's almost always better the second day.

Click here for Recipe SWAT Team: Healthy Greens.


For the soup:

  • Olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • Two 32-ounce boxes of chicken stock
  • 2 heads of escarole, trimmed, leaves removed and washed
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Bay leaf
  • Grated Parmesan, for garnish


This might be the most simple recipe I have. It's easy. Watch this. Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and then sauté the garlic and onion. Add the stock to the pot. A couple of minutes later, throw the escarole and beans in the pot. Add the red pepper flakes, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Simmer for an hour, remove the bay leaf, and eat with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan. Even better the next day.

  • 1 1/2 cups dried cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 2 whole dried peperoncini
  • 8 cups packed coarsely shredded escarole leaves, preferably the tough outer leaves, washed and drained
  • 1 cup prepared tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


Recipe Summary

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound torn escarole
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the water, chicken bouillon, cannellini beans, and diced tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes.

Stir in the torn escarole, and continue simmering until the escarole is tender, about 30 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 5 to 10 minutes more before serving.

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I only used chicken broth, no water and added shell pasta. Just before serving I topped the soup with grilled chicken and a tiny bit of fresh grated parmesan cheese. For a rustic Italian experience place a piece of day old baguette at the bottom of the bowl. This was an inexpensive way to make the soup more hearty. bon apetite!

Easy to make, excellent soup, very flavorful. Modifications: I omitted the celery and carrot, and substituted sauted mushrooms. Also, instead of two cups stock and three of water, I just used five of newly-made vegetarian stock.

Tasty, however slightly bland. I much preferred a similar soup on this same site "Kale and White Bean Soup" which was much more flavorful. This soup was fast and easy - good on a weeknight.

There are some wonderful suggestions by other cooks here that I will definitely try next time. I made this pleasing, homey soup with low- sodium chicken stock and still added a little water, so it turned out to be just slightly but comfortingly bland, reminding me very much of the brothy soups my Dutch grandmother used to make. I'm avoiding too much salt in my diet, so to bring up the flavour next time I think I'll try sauteing the beans, as others have suggested. I also added pepper. Plus, I topped the soup with wonderfully simple boneless, skinless chicken thighs which I seasoned with a pinch of salt, pepper, sage, toasted celery seeds, and a tiny bit of cumin, then pan-fried in a pat of salt-free butter. Believe me, don't skip the butter. It's worth the extra calories. Delicious!

I've made this soup a few times and really love it. I haven't tried cooking the beans ahead of time but do add bacon, mushrooms, and use the escarole water instead of plain water. It definitely needs seasoning but is really delicious with a bit of salt and a touch of vinegar and some smoked paprika.

This soup has 4 star potential. The changes I make are to use all LOW-SODIUM broth (no water)and to the vegetable mix, I also add chopped fennel (anise) and a chopped leek. And at the end I add browned, cooked through and thoroughly drained and blotted sweet Italian Sausage. It is utterly delicious!

I did take a recommendation and cooked the white beans in olive oil with some crushed red pepper and garlic for 5 minutes. I also added a splash of vinegar with the broth. Overall, a healthful and delicious dish for a chilly night.

The recipe was just what we were in the mood for on a cold night. I also sauteed the beans a bit before I added the broth. I used all broth and it turned out really well. I also added a little hot sauce at the end for little kick.

To make this very good recipe excellent (more like how my Great Gramma made it) I follow these steps: - saute cannellini beans until crispy in olive oil to add depth of flavor and texture before adding to broth. - make Italian soup meatballs (85% lean beef, freshly processed bread crumbs soaked in milk, sauteed onion, fresh garlic, Worchestershire, eggs, parmesan, parsley, and S&P. Roll into marble sized balls and saute until brown and crispy. Add to soup for last 10 minutes. - add as much parmesan rind as you have available - More broth, less water. - Serve with additional shredded or grated parmesan and crusty bread When making soup, always double the recipe! Fast, inexpensive and delicious!!

Soup was missing a layer of flavor for me. Next time I would use less water and more stock and perhaps a parm rind for substance. Would also try the pesto suggestion from earlier reviewer.

this was great with a spoonful of pesto (or in my case, a pesto cube--i made some this summer and froze it) added to the soup bowl when serving, in addition to romano cheese. it was big hit, and inexpensive to make.

I make this soup whenever we get a little cold snap down here in Texas. Simple and delicious. A family favorite

This soup is fantastic! I used more stock that it suggested (only 1 cup water) and added salt to taste and it really turned out great. It was the hit of the meal. I usually have no patience for soup, but this one is quick and easy.

GREAT soup recipe! I added an extra clove of garlic and ommitted the carrots and we loved it. I also added a couple drops of green tabasco sauce for added flavor -- not spicy, just good flavor.

Simple and delicious! Even better the days after you prepare it. This soup is anything but bland. The escarole gives it a wonderful bite. And you must use parmesan!

Good, healthy soup but a bit bland. I didn't add cheese, which surely would have added some flavor.

I made this soup with 6 cups of low fat chicken broth and 1 cup of water. Also added some canned peeled tomatoes and crushed red pepper when the liquid was added to the pot. The beans make it hearty enough for a dinner meal. Pinto beans give it a slight bacony flavor. Very tasty soup packed with goodies.

Reviews ( 22 )

It wasn't awful, but it wasn't worth making again. First off, forget that 15 minutes of prep. I used lacinato kale and the kale alone took 20 minutes to wash, devein, and chop. It would be shorter with escarole, but even then, there is no way this takes 15 minutes to throw together. All told, using only 1 lb. of kale, the whole thing took about an hour to prep, including cleaning as I went, which is something CL never figures into their time estimates. The soup itself was alright, but a bit bland. Most CL soups are bland, but this actually looked promising. Oh well, I guess CL can make even a promising soup end up severely lacking in flavor. In my case I even used a homemade veggie broth taken from seriouseats that is very flavorful and, IMO, kle is both tastier and more flavorful than escarole. The soup definitely needs more salt - maybe it would be better with the miso instead of the parmesan rind. At the very least I'd double the thyme sprigs and up the rosemary. Also, I looked at three DC area grocery stores for no-salt Great Northern beans and neither Whole Foods, Giant, or Safeway carried them.

White bean and escarole soup with olio nuovo

Jews have long celebrated Hanukkah by deep-frying pastries — Iraqi zengoula, Indian jalabi, Spanish and Mexican buñuelos, Italian frittelle, Israeli sufganiyot — and pan-frying potato latkes. But it’s the oil — specifically olive oil — and not the cooking method that’s commemorated during the festival of lights.

And the moment olive oil aficionados wait for all year is the release of olio nuovo, the ultra-green first bottling of the year’s first pressing. Skimmed from the vat before the sediment has settled, olio nuovo has a creamy texture and heightened notes of fruit, grass and pepper. As with the Hanukkah oil, olio nuovo is a fleeting ritual, best savored within a few weeks of its release.

December is peak time for new oil, and a number of Los Angeles chefs and stores, from Eataly to Costco, are showcasing the freshly-milled oils from Italian and California producers, making olio nuovo a symbolically and seasonally perfect Hanukkah ingredient — and not a bad holiday gift. (Other oil-producing countries don’t export much of the new oil.)

Olio nuovo “is the first expression of the olive harvest,” says Albert Katz, producer of award-winning olive oil in eastern Napa County and a co-founder of the California Olive Oil Council.

“There is nothing like the first few days of pressing — that rustic, green, unfiltered oil those first fresh, fruity, intense, viscous drops,” says Katz. Most of the pressing will be left to settle and mellow for several weeks, then “racked off” from perishable solids before bottling to become shelf stable. “After that,” Katz says, “it’s just good oil.”

The best oils are estate-grown, with fruity, bitter and pungent flavors. There are three styles — light, medium, robust — determined by olive varietals, where and how they were grown, when harvested and the miller’s preferences.

Appreciation for olio nuovo in the U.S. is due in large part to Rolando Beramendi, founder of Manicaretti, importer of Italian delicacies, who first introduced the Tenuta di Capezzana from Tuscany to influential California chefs Judy Rogers, Paul Bertolli and Nancy Silverton in the early 1990s.

You can find bottles of olio nuovo at Monsieur Marcel at the Original Farmers Market, L.A.’s recently opened Eataly, if you’re lucky at your local farmers market — even at Costco. (It’s often pricier than other olive oils and imported are typically more expensive than domestic.)

Once you open your bottle, “use immediately pour abundantly,” Beramendi writes in the cookbook “Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way,” published in October. And keep dishes simple to showcase the oil olio nuovo can elevate whatever you started with into something transcendent. (Think: spaghetti aglio e olio.)

Maybe the purest taste experience is on grilled bread, with just a sprinkle of good salt. Instead of chopped liver, begin your Hanukkah festivities with crusty bread and olio nuovo.

If you want something a little more involved than bread and oil, boiled potatoes dressed up with parsley, vinegar, pepper and olio nuovo can become a substitute for latkes. The oil makes a terrific finish to a pot of bean and escarole soup. And then there is olive oil cake, made with semolina and oranges and finished with pistachios and chocolate — and more olio nuovo.

So this year, don’t fry all the Hanukkah oil. The method may have changed — neither people nor animals power the mill — but winter’s oil production is essentially the same as in ancient times: crush, press, separate. Now, that’s something to celebrate.

Two upcoming Los Angeles olio nuovo events:

Nancy Silverton is celebrating the launch of Rolando Beramendi’s “Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way” (St. Martin’s Press, 2017), with a lunch featuring olio nuovo at noon Dec.10 at Chi Spacca. 6610 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles,(323) 297- 1133,

Akasha Richmond of AR Cucina is featuring Sicilian olio nuovos throughout the season, including Hanukkah specials and a Christmas Eve Feast of Seven Fishes. 9531 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-8800,

Tenuta di Capezzana. Region: Carmignano, Tuscany. Olive cultivars: Moraiolo, Frantoio, Pendolino, Leccino. Grassy, “spring in a bottle,” elegantly robust, marries instantly and harmoniously with food. About $50-$55 for 500 ml. Monsieur Marcel, Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, Bay Cities Italian Deli,

Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Laudemio. Region: Florence, Tuscany. Olive cultivars: Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino. Brilliant green floral, wheat and artichoke aromas “grand Tuscan” robust bitterness and pepper. $50-$55 for 500 ml. Monsieur Marcel,

Gianfranco Becchina Olio Verde Novello. Region: Belice, (western) Sicily. Olive cultivar: Nocellara del Belice. Intensely green herbaceous medium bitterness, spice and pepper hint of nuts. $45-$50 for 500 ml.

Titone. Region: Trapani, Sicily. Olive cultivars: Nocellara del Belice, Cerasuola, Biancolilla. Rich, nutty, herbaceous, fruity, medium pepper. $35-$40 for 250 ml. Mozza2Go, Monsieur Marcel,

Bondolio. Region: Winters, Yolo County. Olive cultivars: Nocellara, Biancolilla, Cerasuola. Softer Sicilian style, nutty, hints of sweetness, fruit forward, floral, gentle pepper, medium blend. $32-$35 for 500 ml. We Olive stores under the We Olive label, and

Katz Organic December’s New Oil. Region: Suisun Valley, Napa County. Olive cultivars: Leccino, Frantoio, Maurino. Tuscan-style, medium-bold, golden green, brash and daring, spice, herbs, pepper, artichoke, hint of nut. $25 for 375 ml. Monsieur Marcel,,

Seka Hills Estate Olio Nuovo. Region: Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Brooks, Capay Valley. Olive cultivar: Arbequina. Very approachable, fresh, bright, grassy, delicate pepper. $16-$20 for 250 ml. Monsieur Marcel,,

California Olive Ranch Limited Reserve and Olio Nuovo. Region: primarily Yolo and Butte Counties. Limited Reserve: Olive varietals: Koroneiki, Arbequina. Producer describes notes of pear, tropical fruits, and green grass. $19.99 for 500 ml. exclusively online at Olio Nuovo: Olive cultivar: Arbequina. Medium intensity, hints of green banana. $10.99 for 1 liter. Los Angeles and other select Costco regions.

Amelia Saltsman is the author of “The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen” and “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook.”

Escarole and White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage


4 Tbsp . olive oil, divided

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1/2 tsp . red pepper flakes (optional)

1 lb. Italian sweet sausage, casing removed

1 head escarole, about 16 oz ., roughly chopped

6 cups low sodium beef, vegetable or chicken stock (I used beef)

2 (15 oz.) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


In a large pot over medium heat, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil.

Add onion and celery. Cook until slightly soft, about 8 minutes.

Next, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant. About 1 minute.

Add remaining olive oil and sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage and cook until browned.

Add escarole and cook until wilted, 1 – 2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add stock and beans to the pot. Increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally, mash some of the beans to thicken the soup.

Reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add fresh lemon juice.


You can substitute Cannellini or Navy beans for the Great Northern beans.

Keywords: soup, Italian sausage, escarole, white beans, beans, antipasti, appetizer, dinner, comfort food holiday, Italian

Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces applewood-smoked slab bacon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions (about 6 ounces each), finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 quarts homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • 3 large thyme sprigs
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 head escarole, cut crosswise into strips

Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add bacon, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.

Add onions and shallot to pan cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic cook 1 minute more.

Return bacon to pan. Stir in stock, beans, thyme, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt season with pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover, and cook until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours more.

Stir in escarole. Cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

White Bean and Escarole Soup

There are many variations of soups featuring beans and greens. They are all easy to make (although not quick, if you are using dried beans) and full of nutrients. They are also full of flavor. Such soups are an integral part of the peasant cuisine of Puglia, as beans and greens grow abundantly in this sunny region. Even in modern times, when meat is more affordable than it has ever been, the Puglian diet remains deeply rooted in vegetables and legumes. Escarole is not a very common green, but it’s worth seeking out, as it adds layers of flavor to this simple soup. It is a member of the endive family but is less bitter than many other types of endive and has a complex flavor. Although you can use a different green in this soup (such as dandelion, kale, or even spinach), nothing will give you the same unique flavor that escarole will.

Recipe Course appetizer, main course

Dietary Consideration egg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Type of Dish hot soup, soup


  • 2 cups (473 mL) dried cannellini beans , soaked in water overnight
  • 4 cloves garlic , peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 head escarole , washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion , peeled and chopped
  • 15 cherry tomatoes , quartered
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) red pepper flakes
  • Salt , to taste
  • Grated cheese (Caciocavallo or another cheese that melts easily is best, but you can also use pecorino cheese), for serving
  • Toasted crusty bread , for serving


Rinse the soaked beans and put them in a pot with the chopped garlic. Add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches (5 cm). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the beans are tender (about 1½ to 2 hours, depending on how fresh the beans are).

When the beans are done, boil the chopped escarole in 1 quart of water until it wilts. Do not drain. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the onions and sauté until they are tender. Add the tomatoes and cook another 2 minutes, until the tomatoes release some of their liquid. Add the red pepper flakes. When the onion mixture is cooked, combine it with the cooked escarole and the reserved cooking liquid and add the entire mixture to the cooked beans. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes for the flavors to blend. Season with salt and add more red pepper, if necessary.

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