Escarole Soup with Beans and Meatballs
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.