Hope your Valentine’s Day was enjoyable and everything you wanted it to be. Today, you are probably still stuffed from all the sweets and treats and want to eat light. Plus, if you are in the Northeast area you are dealing with snow, near freezing temps and extremely high winds today…YUCK! On a positive note, it does make for a perfect soup day. There is nothing better than a nice, hot bowl of soup to cure all ailments and warm up the soul.
My Grandma Alba used to make the best escarole and bean soup. She would make it every Thanksgiving and bring it over to our house as our 1st course. As kids we didn’t love escarole but the little meatballs she put in made us go nuts for this soup! Nowadays, I make my own version of it and although its not as good as hers, its pretty darn close and quite tasty.
- 1-2 heads of escarole (rinsed thoroughly and cut into pieces)
- 10 cloves of garlic
- 2 cans cannelini beans (drained and rinsed)
- turkey meatballs (recipe and ingredients for that below)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- grated cheese for serving
- Italian Bread optional
First of all, you must be sure to rinse your escarole really well. It has a tendency to have lots of grit and dirt hidden between the leaves and if not rinsed well it will make your soup gritty and you don’t want that. I just tear the leaves with my hands and rinse it really good. Also, I usually use two heads of escarole because it cooks down like spinach and so you definitely want enough of it in your soup.
As for the meatballs, I make my own turkey meatballs but you can use ground beef or whatever you prefer. You can fry them separately or bake them beforehand. You can also cook them in the soup but keep in mind that if you do that it will increase the cooking time of the soup, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you have the time to let it simmer all day or for at least 2-3 hours. I usually brown them in big pot and then add everything else and let it cook.
So, pour some extra-virgin olive oil in big soup pot to coat it and let it heat. When heated add your little meatballs and fry them. Stir them around to get the brown bits from the frying moving around, this adds to the flavor of the broth. When meatballs are browned add your smashed and chopped garlic to oil, keeping the meatballs in the pot. Next, add your cleaned and chopped escarole and let it cook. Add your salt and pepper and some red pepper flakes ( a shake or two). When escarole cooks down add your beans and let it cook for a few minutes. Add water to fill your soup pot up. Stir from time to time and let cook on low for an hour or two. Serve with some grated cheese on the side and if you like some Italian bread! Enjoy!
Meatball Ingredients: In bowl, mix together ground turkey meat, one egg, lots of grated cheese, garlic powder or chopped fresh garlic, seasoned breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and a drop of water. I don’t measure my meatballs that is all by eye.