Recipe of the Week: Scarole e Fagioli Minestra

October 03, 2011

Scarole e Fagioli
Escarole and Bean Soup

On this cold and rainy day, I can’t help but be reminded of when a special someone would prepare a nice bowl of scarole e fagioli soup for me! This delicious and hearty winter minestra (thick soup) is made with fresh escarole and beans from the garden or supermarket. It is one of my favourite ‘feel good’ meals that I enjoy eating with crispy Italian bread and a nice glass of Chianti. 

Typical of Calabrian minestre, this soup is thick, not brothy, with just enough liquid to bathe the beans and vegetables. The escarole should be very soft, offering no resistance. My mom would leave the whole hot peppers in the soup and enjoy them in small bites. Simply delicious and nutritious!

·         About 3 cups of cooked cannellini beans or borlotti beans
·         Kosher salt
·         2 pounds escarole, both ribs and leaves
·         4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
·         2 to 3 small dried hot red peppers, tops removed and slit
·         3 cloves garlic, halved

You begin, as always, with a soffritto by frying some garlic in olive oil until lightly browned, then add a small head of escarole, sliced into very fine ribbons. Cover and allow the escarole to reduce, mixing from time to time so they absorb the flavor of the soffritto. Then add boiled or canned cannellini or borlotti beans along with enough water or broth to cover the ingredients. Cover and allow to simmer until the escarole and beans are quite soft, about 15-20 minutes. If, like me, you like a thick soup, then along the way crush some of the beans with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot. Place slices of day old bread, either toasted or fried in olive oil if you like, in the bottom of your soup bowls, then pour the soup over. Drizzle with un filo d'olio, top with a generous grinding of black pepper and serve. That's all there is to it.

MY ADVICE: Add some red peppers or pepper flakes, as well as Italian pancetta and 4 anchioves to the soffritto. Allow the anchioves to melt into the hot oil. It's simply delicious and enhances all the flavors. - Enjoy! 

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