This recipe was given to me by a coworker in Miami, back when I lived there in the early 90’s, so it’s been in my repertoire for a long time. The paper it’s printed on is stained with broth splatters and sausage grease, so you know it’s a really good one.
At the time, I had no idea what escarole was. It looks like lettuce, but it’s very different in texture and taste. And it’s heavenly in soup. So ask the produce manager to help you find it if you have to, you’ll be glad you did.
I prefer the sausage version, of course. Sausage makes everything taste better. But even without it, this is a hearty and delicious bowl of soup. And using canned beans makes it quick and easy to prepare. Buon appetito!
Italian beans and greens
(Minestre e fagioli)
2 large or 3 small escarole, washed and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic
3 cups water (or a large box of organic chicken broth) – add more liquid if soup seems dry
1 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
2 — 6 oz. cans of white cannelini beans
grated parmesan or romano cheese
In a large heavy pot, sauté the garlic in olive oil just until garlic starts to turn golden brown. Lower flame and add the escarole. Add water or broth. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove cover and add beans. Cook 6-8 minutes until it’s heated through and it’s ready to serve. Grate cheese on top and serve with sliced bread, yummy.
1 lb. Italian sausage, (hot, sweet or mixed)
¼ cup olive oil
Remove sausage from casing and crumble into large heavy pot with olive oil. Cook meat until brown. Drain most of the fat. Add garlic and continue with recipe from above. Eliminate the pepper flakes if using hot sausage.