Escarole Soup with Beans and Meatballs

Soup is something I never order in a restaurant. I never really knew why it didn’t appeal to me, but making this one make me realize that it’s because soup is something I can easily make at home. Even if you’re not someone who considers yourself a cook, a simple Celery Root Soup or Potato Leek Soup with just a few ingredients simmered up and blended together is pretty hard to mess up.

I found myself with an extra-large head of escarole last week, which one of my favorite winter greens. I have a habit of buying too much of anything I like when I see it at the market, although with escarole, you don’t have a choice: you have to buy the whole head.

In Paris, heads of escarole lean toward being the size of a small shrub. In fact, they’re so big, they take up most of my shopping basket or bag, so I’ve learned to buy it last.

Fortunately winter salad greens like this keep well, and it was perfectly fresh this week. When I posted a picture of it online after buying it, though, a few people were surprised that it was eaten raw. I usually use it in salads, sometimes with nuts, apples, pears, maybe some blue cheese or gorgonzola, and a dressing made with a good amount of mustard, or sometimes some walnut or hazelnut oil to the sauce. Romain had never had fruit in a salad and liked the contrast with the slightly bitter greens. (Whew! Because for such a little guy, he’s a pretty tough crowd.)

But I had so many other winter greens that I decided to make soup. Seeing as I also had some meatballs in the freezer that I made last week, because I was craving meatballs, this soup was perfect because I could multitask and use them up.

To even further my status as an effective multitasker in that department (I should write a Marie Kondo-like book, The Life-Changing Magic of Using Things Up), I also had a bag of these much-heralded Marcella beans from Rancho Gordo that I brought back from the States. People ask me where they can get them in France, and you can’t. But the good news for those who are Stateside is that Steve, the owner, is offering some French varieties of heirloom-type beans. His cassoulet beans are excellent, he’s got flageolets, and he’s now carrying Mogette de Vendée beans. (He also just published French Beans: Exploring the Bean Cuisine of France by Georgeanne Brennan.)

This recipe isn’t French, but Italian-influenced, a take on Italian Wedding Soup. It’s a simple broth-based bowl of escarole sautéed in garlic, beans, and meatballs, which is hearty and warming. I was sort of not in the mood to make a fuss, so poached the meatballs in the soup rather than cooking them separately, although a few fell apart, which didn’t bother me. (Anything with less clean-up in the kitchen never bothers me.) But you can fry or bake them in advance, and add them at the last minute. It’s a great soup to get you through the winter, a wedding, or an overactive purchase of greens.

Escarole Soup with Beans and Meatballs
Print Recipe
6 servings
Feel free to use any meatballs that you wish. I have a meatball recipe here. Depending on the recipe, the meatballs may fall apart if cooked too briskly, or if you stir them in the pot. It's not the end of the world but if you want to cook them separately (frying them in some olive oil on the stovetop, or baking them in the oven), you can add the cooked meatballs when the soup is done. In place of meatballs, slices of sausage would be nice instead in this soup.I cooked my own beans, starting with 1 cup (200g) dried beans, simmered in plenty of water, until soft. You can use canned beans, drained. Or you can go another route and add a favorite shape of cooked pasta. If using pasta, add it at the end of step #3.To make this soup vegetarian and vegan, use vegetable stock or the cooked bean liquid in place of the chicken stock, and skip the meatballs and cheese added at the end. A few flakes of crushed red pepper would ramp up the flavor.If you save Parmesan rinds for soups, this is the place to use them. Put them in the pot when you add the stock and they'll add a nice richness. (Remove them before serving.)
3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pound (455g, 16 cups) very coarsely chopped escarole
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups (1l) chicken stock
2 cups (230g) cooked beans
12 ounces (340g) small meatballs, about twenty 1-inch (3cm) meatballs
Parmesan cheese, or similar grating cheese, for serving
1. Heat the olive and garlic together over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large pot.
2. Stir the garlic and olive oil, cooking the garlic, just until the garlic softens, about 1 minute. Add the escarole in batches, stirring in the garlic so it's not all at the bottom of the pot, where it can burn (and get bitter). Once all the escarole is added, stir in the salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and let the escarole cook, lifting the lid once or twice while it's cooking, until the escarole is completely wilted, 2-3 minutes.
3. Remove the lid and pour in the stock. Bring the mixture to steady simmer. Stir in the cooked beans, then drop in the meatballs. (Don't stir them, though, which can cause them to lose their shape; just place them in the soup.) Cover the pot and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on their size.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with shavings of Parmesan and perhaps an extra drizzle of olive oil, if you'd like.

And…one more thing: I’ll be off for the next few weeks, taking a break after finishing a book, enjoying some downtime. See you when I return! – david

A hearty winter soup with greens, meatballs, and beans.

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80 comments

  • Claire
    January 17, 2019 10:50am

    The world is waiting for your book ‘The life changing magic of using things up’ Recently, the local council undertook a campaign about food wastage and how to minimise waste. One of the largest contributor to landfill is food waste. Anway, the soup looks delicious.

    • January 17, 2019 1:32pm
      David Lebovitz

      I was always a big composter; I had a big bin when I lived in California and it was great to have outside, to toss everything into. Paris has been feeling out ways to do that, but it’s been slow. I wish the outdoor markets set up bins for locals to put our compostables in, as well and for the market vendors, that have a lot of fruit and vegetable matter leftover when the markets are finished.

    • Katie
      January 20, 2019 2:11am

      Tamar Adler’s “An Everlasting Meal” comes pretty close, and is beautifully written, to boot! Although I’d gladly read David’s version as well :-)

  • January 17, 2019 11:17am

    I agree with Claire that I would buy a book about using things up.
    I also agree with you that I tend not to order soup in restaurants, but the times that I have, I have been delighted. Decades later, I still remember the ribollita I had in Florence; I ordered gaspacho at every single meal (except breakfast) on a vacation across southern Spain, and it was different every time. Today we are making a white bean soup (using lingots, the gold bars that go in cassoulet) with a black truffle from a local truffle market on Saturday. Yum.

  • "J"
    January 17, 2019 12:43pm

    David, Anticipating a cold wintery weekend in Philadelphia and was mulling over what soups to make as we honker down. This came just in time. As always enjoy all of the recipes you share and loved be able to take the journey with you as you found and reburbished your new place.

  • Janet
    January 17, 2019 1:04pm

    Enjoy your time off. I’ll be doing a pre-order of your book the minute I can!

  • Vicki
    January 17, 2019 1:42pm

    “The Life-Changing Magic of Using Things Up”- I have a feeling you mean this as a joke but honestly, I would buy it. I’m one of those that haven’t a clue what to do with a mish mash of ingredients as well as, when a recipe says “make it your own by adding whatever pleases you”. Huh?

    • January 31, 2019 3:41am

      My grandmother called it “Whatchagot Soup.”

  • Gayle
    January 17, 2019 1:45pm

    This is crazy. I just received 3 lbs of beans from Rancho Gordo and one is the Marcella. The description was irresistible.

    The problem is the escarole here is having a bad time of it. My produce guy says they throw away most of it rather than sell such a terrible product. He doesn’t know why.

    Anyway, I may just do a simple broth with rosemary and olive oil. These beans will shine, I’m sure.

    Thanks for the recipe, David. I’ll try it when my escarole is better.

    • January 17, 2019 2:13pm
      David Lebovitz

      If you can’t get escarole, you could try it with spinach. You’ll probably want to use a lot less because it doesn’t cook down as much as escarole. I’d say go with about one third of what I recommended for the escarole, then you could add more later. Much depends on how thick/tough the spinach is but if you start with less, you can always add more.

      (Interestingly, a number of Chinese recipes exist for stir-fried lettuce. Iceberg is usually used. That’s another option.)

      Let us know how it works out if you do!

      • Deb
        January 18, 2019 8:02pm

        My mother stir-fried iceberg. Couldn’t translate to her why that doesn’t make sense in the New World. After tasting it cooked, I wondered why the New a World limits itself.

    • no name
      January 20, 2019 10:42pm

      You can do kale instead. Just pick young leaves out of the pile, strip out the main stem, and chiffonade. Delicious. They only need about 10 minutes that way.

    • January 22, 2019 3:45am

      Sub kale for the escarole. Use cavalo nero (black kale, AKA dinosaur kale) if you see it. The leftover soup reheats better with kale, too.

  • Nmlark
    January 17, 2019 2:13pm

    This is exactly my Italian grandmother’s soup that I make weekly during the winter. Warms the body and soul!

  • Ted
    January 17, 2019 2:14pm

    David (or anyone else who wants to chime in)–

    If we can’t get escarole, what other greens could be substituted?

    Thank you.

    • PDXKMW
      January 17, 2019 2:25pm

      finely chopped kale works great

    • MR in NJ
      January 17, 2019 7:26pm

      I saw baby kale at the farmers market last week. Could be good for soup if less tough and you might not have to cut it so fine.

  • PDXKMW
    January 17, 2019 2:23pm

    I just made this soup with 1 pound of bulk Italian sausage and finely chopped kale (instead of Escarole). It was delicious!

  • Vickie
    January 17, 2019 2:25pm

    Do you think this would be good with mustard greens or collards? I have two planter boxes full of some beautiful, ready-to-eat greens!

    • Kay
      January 18, 2019 2:04pm

      I always find that with substitutions you end up with a different soup. It might still be delicious, of course. Mustard greens are so strong they would overwhelm the other ingredients, don’t you think? But a much smaller amount of collards might make a good soup.

      Have you tried Indian recipes for collard and mustard greens? Haak is collards cooked with oil and a lot of hot dried peppers. It’s delicious.

    • Carolyn M
      January 18, 2019 6:02pm

      Just made this with collards, cut lengthwise into 3” strips & crosswise into 3/4” strips. Sprinkled tiny pinch of sugar on collards after adding to pot. Used 2 cans of rinsed cannelloni beans. Did not add salt called for in recipe because my chicken broth has salt in it. Made meatballs with only beef, left over seasoned croutons, oat bran, dried toasted onions, 2 eggs, 3 T ketchup, dash of lemon juice. Yummy! Perfect for the cold, rainy weather we are experiencing in Austin Texas.

  • Karen
    January 17, 2019 3:32pm

    I notice your meatballs in the soup are much greener than those from the recipe provided. Were they bulked up with spinach? Bonnes vacances!

    • January 17, 2019 4:39pm
      David Lebovitz

      I didn’t use the recipe I linked to, but just provided it in case people wanted an actual recipe. The meatballs here were something I just make up and didn’t measure as I went. But they had some herbs (mint and parsley) that I had on hand, in them : )

      • Sophie B.
        January 17, 2019 6:32pm

        I see what you did….Using Things Up

      • Deb
        January 18, 2019 8:05pm

        I LOVE!!! The Green meatballs, why I looked at this recipe. I even imagined I saw Pine nuts in them balls. My taste buds are leading my eyeballs. Yum and Thanks!

  • Margaret
    January 17, 2019 3:50pm

    I love escarole in soups — it gives soups a wonderful taste more than any other green.

  • Michelle Oie
    January 17, 2019 3:57pm

    Any suggestions for those that don’t eat meat except to leave the meatballs out?
    Enjoy your well deserved time off!

    • January 17, 2019 4:38pm
      David Lebovitz

      You could add roasted mushrooms, smoked tofu, roasted pearl onions, or even some of the meatless sausages. I know people give them a hard time, but some of them do have the same flavor profile of sausage (smoke, herbs, etc.) so those would work, too.

    • Asa
      January 22, 2019 9:24pm

      I’m making the mushroom meatballs from this post: http://thefirstmess.com/2019/01/16/giant-vegan-mushroom-meatballs-recipe-garlic-bread/ and plan on using vegetable stock to make this a vegetarian soup. I think I’ll bake the meatballs in the oven per that post and then add them to the soup at the end. (I’ll probably make them a little smaller than directed). This soup is going to be perfect for the cold weather here in the Northeast right now.

  • Carla
    January 17, 2019 4:03pm

    I love this soup! Meatballs or “pallotini” in Italian were always my fave part of soup when my mom made them (usually in regular Italian chicken soup, never heard it called wedding soup until a few years ago!) We always cook them in the soup, no frying necessary. I also find ways to use things up! Can’t wait for the new book!

  • NW
    January 17, 2019 4:44pm

    Do you make your own stock? I’m so used to a huge selection of stocks and broths in US stores, but I can’t find anything in France except cubes.

    • Shira McKernab
      January 18, 2019 3:07pm

      If you are in Paris you can get stock at Marks and Spencer. I also buy sachets that I find at Monoprix or Le Grand Epicerie. Much better than the cubes.

      • January 18, 2019 3:12pm
        David Lebovitz

        I just noticed that Picard is selling “pellets” of stock. I’m sure those beat “le cube” : )

  • arles
    January 17, 2019 4:46pm

    Escarole is so beautiful, it simply cries out to be bought. And you have highlighted my two favorite ways to use escarole — in white bean soup and in a salad with blue cheese. Thanks for the tip about buying the escarole last.

    I would love to know what goes into those meatballs. They look wonderful.

    • Susan S.
      January 17, 2019 10:18pm

      I know! I was waiting for that recipe as soon as I saw them in stories. Was wondering what all the dark bits were. They look so “extra”.

    • January 18, 2019 7:41am
      David Lebovitz

      I made them because I was craving meatballs one day, so went to the butcher to get some ground meat. These were ground lamb, breadcrumbs, eggs, s+p, some chopped fresh herbs, an onion, and some spices. Don’t recall exactly what they were, but it might have been a bit of allspice and ground fennel? The recipe I linked to is another one I make, which works really well, and there is another one here.

  • Kathy
    January 17, 2019 4:59pm

    I seldom enjoy restaurant soup because it’s often over-salted. And the salt overwhelms all of the other flavors. Prefer making soup at home where I can control the amount of salt in the soup. Why do restaurants overuse salt anyway?

    • January 18, 2019 7:37am
      David Lebovitz

      My guess is that a lot of people like salty foods, which is why fast-foods and canned foods often have a heavy dose of salt in them. (Restaurants also cook with more fat than people would use at home, even middle- and high-end restaurants, because it makes the food taste better, even though people wouldn’t add that amount if they were cooking at home!) I don’t usually find restaurant food overly salty, but I cook a lot for myself, so control what goes into everything :)

  • JodiP
    January 17, 2019 8:06pm

    Reading this as I eat the ham, gorgonzola and pear quiche from your My Paris Kitchen. I love that book and am very happy to hear another one’s on the way!

    Will definitely try this soup–there’s plenty of Minnesota winter left.

    • January 18, 2019 7:34am
      David Lebovitz

      Glad you like that quiche! Hope you like the new book (out in Spring of 2020) too! : )

      • Susan
        January 22, 2019 7:32pm

        I’m just excited to hear that we will have a new book from you to enjoy! :) (And given the awful blast of cold here in the northeast, I plan to buy some escarole and make this soup ASAP.) Thanks for all your terrific recipes!

  • PF
    January 17, 2019 8:39pm

    I grew up in a famously (notoriously?) frugal Italian American household, and escarole soup was a winter mainstay, but it was never as luxurious as this. My mother and/or grandmother would stew some torn escarole leaves in water, add a handful of rice plus some salt, and when the rice was cooked, quickly stir in a raw egg alla stracciatella. It was utterly simple and one of my first visual memories- pale grey-green, white and yellow.

  • Victoria
    January 17, 2019 8:51pm

    This is similar to one of my favorite winter soups — a Martha Stewart recipe. The meatballs are a combination of ground pork and beef, along with 1/4 cup dried currants, garlic, onion, milk, bread, fresh oregano. She adds a crushed pepper to the broth.

  • natacha liuzzi
    January 17, 2019 9:30pm

    This looks amazing! Perfect weekend for making it. Thank you for sharing. I went to the meatball link, and you made me smile~ Grinders from CT!
    How did I not know you were from CT?!
    Enjoy your time off! I can’t wait to read your new book!!

  • Debra
    January 17, 2019 9:44pm

    Use dinosaur kale instead

  • Elaine S
    January 18, 2019 12:48am

    I ordered the Mogette de Vendee beans-do you have any thoughts on best ways to use them? “My Paris Kitchen” is a favorite and frequently used reference at our house. Thank you!

    • January 18, 2019 7:33am
      David Lebovitz

      Rancho Gordo has some great recipes on their website (and in their newsletter) but they’re good just served warm, with olive oil and salt, cassoulet (the recipe is in My Paris Kitchen & it’s a project, but a delicious one), a minestrone-style soup with vegetables in a light tomato broth, and there’s a hearty French soup called Garbure they’re very good in. That recipe I linked to is in French, but I saw other recipes on Saveur and Food & Wine website (which are both trusted sources for recipes as they test them), so you might want to give them a try, too!

  • Marianne McGriff
    January 18, 2019 2:21am

    David, Your Escarole Soup was in my email this morning and I was already going to Whole Foods. The produce ‘guy’ was SO nice and said that they don’t carry escarole very often. So, I ‘googled’ substitutes and they said to use spinach! The funny thing was that this produce ‘guy’ said that someone had just been in to ask for escarole because they were making a soup. I’m sure it was a David Leibovitz ‘devotee’ like myself! A question, do you cook the meatballs ahead of putting them in the soup? You’re always so careful with details, so I’m assuming that it’s not necessary. A second snowstorm in a week is predicted for our area(Indianapolis, IN), so the soup recipe is PERFECT! Blessings, Marianne

    • January 18, 2019 7:29am
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Marianne, Glad more people are buying escarole! I mentioned that I poached them in the soup, saving the clean up of a pan, although generally they can be cooked in the soup. Just avoid stirring the soup while they’re in there so they hold their shape.

      • Marianne McGriff
        January 20, 2019 3:27am

        David, I just made the soup. It was wonderful! My husband LOVED it, too. I did bake the meatballs ahead of putting them in the soup to cook. I’m not sure it was necessary, but didn’t want them to fall apart. Enjoy the next few weeks of rest…

  • Carolyn M
    January 18, 2019 5:44pm

    Made this recipe this morning using my favorite winter greens, collards. Very delicious!

  • Lizzie
    January 18, 2019 6:45pm

    Central Market in Texas sells escarole — going to make this today, a perfect soup for a grey drizzly winter day.

  • January 19, 2019 5:40pm

    To make it vegetarian or vegan, you can easily find vegan cheese and meatballs in most big cities around the world, you mean :) No reason to go without anymore when there are endless substitutes.

  • Phyllis Perkins
    January 19, 2019 9:23pm

    Using things up was how I learned to cook from my mother. My older brother said that ours was the only home he knew where leftovers were severed 365 nights a year! He never eats them, but I learned that they can spark creativity. Look in the refrigerator, freezer, pantry and then start taking things out to make soups, salads, stews. Don’t just think “reheat”, but rather how can I turn this into something else. And, I am convinced, that some of the world’s great dishes came about by wives looking into their larder to see what could be made — the aforementioned ribollita, and cassoulet, just to name two. A great challenge to doing this is to see if you can make meals for your family for a week or month without going to the store!

  • Karen B Possner
    January 19, 2019 10:45pm

    Just made this, using the linked meatball recipe. Excellent all around but can you clarify — should I have used whole or crushed fennel seeds? Whichever, the flavor they add is wonderful. Many thanks for another terrific recipe.

    • David
      January 20, 2019 12:21pm

      I used them whole but you’re welcome to grind them, or just partially grind them

  • Judi
    January 20, 2019 6:16am

    David, this soup looks great! Growing up in an Italian-American family, this was a staple of ours. We called it ‘scadole’ soup! Dialect for escarole. My grandmom made the soup without the beans, reserving them for the also popular ‘scadole’ and beans. Thanks for the memory – I need to make some very soon!

  • January 20, 2019 8:30pm

    David, I have a question about the apple tart. I just made it since we are in the middle of a winter storm. I am concerned the custard is not done, but the top looks beautiful. Can you describe how the custard should be or taste, liquidy, firm ??? I love your blog and recipes.

    • January 21, 2019 3:17am
      David Lebovitz

      It should be just set in the center. I baked it to the time indicated and until the tart was the golden brown color shown but ovens (and other factors) can vary so best to adjust if necessary for your oven – if your apples are especially juicy it may take a bit more time.

      • January 22, 2019 1:47am

        Thank you for your responding even while you are supposed to be away. It is likely my oven. I put it back in the oven with some foil on top to prevent burning and it seemed just perfect. My husband is in love with the tart. He says 6.0 using the ice skating scoring system.

  • Margi
    January 21, 2019 12:46am

    I just made this with the meatball recipe that’s linked. It is delicious! Thank you, David. Hope you have wonderful time in VietNam and I can’t wait to hear your reports from your vacances! Love your blog!

  • January 24, 2019 11:48am

    Love this idea. I do something similar with iceberg lettuce if I have no other veg in the fridge. I make a chicken soup, add rice noodles, some meatballs and torn pieces of lettuce. It makes a quick and delcious one bowl meal.

  • Camille
    January 25, 2019 9:14am

    Those pictures are gorgeous, David! I have a two part question. Were they taken with your new Sony cam? And were they retouched at all?

  • Jennifer
    January 27, 2019 4:18pm

    This was fabulous! Perfect for a frigid winter evening, too. Quite possibly the best meatballs I have ever made!
    Thanks David.

  • JessicAK
    January 28, 2019 2:18am

    I just made this: it’s delicious. And unique. I used the link for the meatball recipe (8 dozen meatballs! I’m freezing the leftovers). I used escarole, a green I am crazy about … and this is new to me, to use it in a soup. I’m all in!

    I added green onions (cut large / two inches or so). The beans I used were ridiculously expensive, but worth it: Zursun/Idaho Heirloom Beans (Flageolet).

    Confession: I served this with chiles rellenos … weird combo, but it worked

    This soup will be a staple in our house. Awesomeness! Thank you, David

    Perfect for a warm (slightly above freezing) Alaska evening

  • Lisette
    January 29, 2019 1:11am

    I made this over the weekend with kale, as my Whole Foods did not have escarole. Used the linked meatball recipe and followed it mostly faithfully. Delicious results! Would love to try it again if I can find an escarole somewhere!

  • Mike
    January 29, 2019 3:19pm

    Frigid weather coming, as is another pot of this delicious soup!

  • John
    January 31, 2019 11:02pm

    David, just to confirm that the 230g of cooked beans means to cook, then weigh them, rather than to weigh, then cook them.

    Cheers! John

  • Pam O’Connell
    February 1, 2019 8:32pm

    David- this comment has nothing to do with the soup recipe above but is connected to your fabulous spicy pan forte recipe and what I discovered if you end up overbaking it into a rock. I baked it again until it was softened up and then pulled off lumps and rolled these in powdered sugar. The recipe then turned into amazing ( not hard) panforte cookies. Who knew?

  • Clémence
    February 1, 2019 8:37pm

    Bonjour David
    I found somehow decent rapini at a local market~a rarity here in Montana~ and was wondering if I could make the soup using the leaves. Or would it be too bitter?
    People are always asking me for tips on visiting Paris and I invariably direct them to your blog. Merci!

  • Laurie Loftus
    February 2, 2019 12:55am

    David – I’m one of those steadfast readers who often has the urge to chat with you, cook with you, have you taste something I’ve made, and roll my eyes at the meanies who scold you for typo’s.

    With this post, I need to tell you how much I appreciate you. I hadn’t thought about this soup in years. It was one of the 3 dishes my Irish-American father would make, starting in the morning. It was an all-day affair. He got the “recipe” out of my Grandma Josie, who made the best pasta fazool and “scadole” (yes I’m from NY). My dad died just as I turned 18, so I haven’t had the soup in many many years, or even thought about it.

    Lucky to live near the Pasta Shop, after reading this post I hopped on over to 4th street, grabbed some Marcellas, and out of a few ingredients, magic. Made with my chicken stock, it was so nourishing and so delicious.

    I admire lots of cooks and chefs but you, Judy Rogers, and Nigel Slater are like my kitchen best friends.

    You’re just lovely. Thank you.

    • Judi
      February 4, 2019 5:02am

      Laurie, obviously I am not David, but I loved hearing about your dad’s cooking! My dad loved to cook, and his mom made the best pasta ‘vazool’, and scadole soup in our circle! I am from Phila., and I love hearing of others with similar background and family stories!

  • John
    February 2, 2019 2:28am

    Haven’t found any escarole at the nearby grocery stores — will have to check farmers markets — so I made the recipe using spigarello instead — with a bit of arugula added for some depth. And substituted Toulouse sausage for the meatballs (felt like a lazy bastard today, and had none as leftovers in the fridge).

    Outcome? Fantastic! It’s in our winter rotation now.

  • Roanne Martin
    February 2, 2019 10:20am

    Hi David. This has nothing to do with the soup recipe but the sleep issues you wrote about in your newsletter. I also have trouble sleeping and find that taking GABA supplements help. You sort of have to find your own dose but I take 500mg in the morning and 1,000 before going to bed. 500mg may be enough for you. Another sleep aid is CBD oil….

    Have a great vacation!

  • Ellen
    February 2, 2019 6:12pm

    I’ve been hunting for a place to comment, originally about mustard, but I’d also like to know what you think about Great Northern beans in escarole soup (we grew escarole for the first time this past year, and my only experience of it in soup is Italian wedding soup, but I’m certainly going to try this. But I might try it with Great Northern white beans, which I grew up eating in the south. My husband is Haitian and has spent many years painting in France, and I spent one month there with him. The Maille mustard in France comes in an “extra strong” version, which we both adore. I’ve seen it once in our local supermarket, but just once. I’ve found another type of mustard in our local Whole Foods and in a local farmer’s market that is extra strong, and that is Roland mustard, which I think is Spanish, and it is good. And I’ve also found another French one, Domain des Vignes, which is “extra forte.” I think that was in Whole Foods. I suppose one could find the Maille “plus forte” online and order it, but maybe you could encourage American stores to carry that type of Maille too? Surely you have some influence? I really never liked mustard at all until I tasted that super strong one. Yummy.

  • Ellen
    February 2, 2019 7:01pm

    Of course I had not yet read the whole recipe to see that it is based on Italian wedding soup. My question now is caused by my food allergies, which I do hope to cure someday. My meatballs would have to be just pork, as beef went the way of wheat and corn — and eggs — and sorghum (too much homemade gluten-free bread; never eat the same thing everyday if you’re prone to leaky gut). In bread recipes, they use ground up flax seeds or chia seeds in water, left to sit until they get gooey, to replace eggs. Do you think that would work in meatballs? Personally, I really miss Swedish meatballs. And eggs. I crave eggs constantly, and I guess that’s because they are so nutritious, and people with gut problems like mine are usually quite nutrient-deficient. We can’t eat any of the “enriched” bread and wheat products in the US, and use lots of very not-nutritious starches, such as corn, arrowroot and potato, in our baking. Of course there are others that are more nutritious. And would you mind, if you have any experience in cooking for the food-impaired, what type of wheat substitutes brown the best when used as breading? Not potato starch. If you use that on pork chops, you will have to seriously overcook them to get the outside brown. I also really, really, really miss fried chicken and fried fish, being a misplaced southerner. A gluten-free breading that would brown would be a great thing. Love your information, which is always so educational.

  • Ellen
    February 2, 2019 7:04pm

    And one more question. (I do apologize for asking so many.) What to do about the roux? I learned when very young that the secret to a good gumbo is to brown the roux, until it is quite dark. The first time I did it right — and made really good gumbo — it actually singed the wooden spoon I was using when I added the liquid. Lots of southerners bake the flour to brown it before making the roux to simplify the process, but I learned to do it the hard way. What gluten free anything can replace a roux, and might be browned? Or is gumbo completely a thing of the past for me?

  • Nemone
    February 4, 2019 9:37pm

    In our house we often make ‘BOFI’ soup… that’s ‘bottom of the fridge innovation’ and the same principle is often successfully applied to pasta, and even to pizza! I try my hardest not to waste anything and my teenage girls are already adept at taking a little leftover whatever and making it into something nutritious and tasty. I’m more proud of that than of the fact that they can follow a recipe. In fact, I believe it’s a true life skill. Your soup sounds delicious.

  • Elliot
    February 7, 2019 7:13pm

    Hey David,

    I found a store in chicago that carries Rancho Gordo beans and picked up all the varieties they had in stock, I used the yellow eyed beans in this recipe along with spinach and sausage, it turned out amazing. I picked up a bag of rancho gordo’s french style green lentils, I was wondering if you have had the chance to try those and how you thought they stacked up to Lentilles du Puy.

    thanks!

  • Judy
    February 10, 2019 12:52pm

    I like to dice the parmesan rind and eat it as part of the soup. It’s chewy, mild and delicious.