Escarole Soup with Pasta and Beans

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  15 servings
Prep Time:  20 minutes Cook Time:  3 hours

Escarole Soup with Pasta and Beans

This delicious soup is reminiscent of minestrone and is loaded with hearty escarole. If you're avoiding gluten, swap out the pasta for a gluten-free version.

Ingredients

Beans:

3 15-ounce cans (low sodium) dried cannellini beans or butter beans, soaked overnight, rinsed

2 large bunches flat leaf parsley, leaves and stems

4 sprigs fresh thyme

6 cloves garlic

6 whole black peppercorns

6 fresh sage leaves or 2 teaspoon dried sage

Soup:

½ cup olive oil

2 large onions, cut into ½-inch dice (about 3 cups), sweet onions preferred

8 celery ribs, cut into ½-inch dice (about 2 cups)

8 large carrots, peeled, cut into ½-inch dice (about 2 cups)

1 tube (127 grams) double concentrated tomato paste

6 sage leaves, minced

16 cups Roasted Vegetable Stock or commercial vegetable stock, low sodium

1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth

2 large heads escarole leaves, cut into 1-inch strips (about 16 cups)

8 ounces dried small pasta, such as orzo, ditalini, or elbow macaroni

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

To make the beans: 

  1. Drain the soaked beans and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a very large pot and add 12 cups cold water. In a large piece of cheesecloth, wrap the parsley, thyme, garlic, peppercorns, and sage in a bundle and tie with kitchen string. Add to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until beans are softened but not mushy, 1½ hours to 2 hours. Drain and reserve the strained beans. (If using canned beans, see Kitchen Tips.)

To make the soup:

  1. Heat the oil In a large soup pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the celery and carrots. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the tomato paste and sage and stir to combine. (The tomato paste can burn if the heat is too high). Add the stock and wine and stir to combine. Then add the strained beans and gently stir to combine.
  2. Stir in the escarole, cover the pot, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the leaves are completely wilted, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Just before serving, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, until the pasta is not quite al dente, or about 1½ minutes less than the minimum on the box. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or see Kitchen Tips about preparing in advance.

Kitchen Tips

  • If you choose to use canned beans, add the herbs, finely minced, directly to the pot of soup along with the drained rinsed beans after the stock is added.
  • You can make the soup up to step 4 well in advance. When ready to serve, heat it up over no more than a medium heat until it reaches to a boil, covered, and then add the pasta as in step 5.

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