I’ve been on a bit of a soup kick this fall and winter. At least one day a week, you’ll find a pot simmering on my stove top. The soups I’ve been making lack pretension. They aren’t puréed, no cream is added, and they frequently provide the last hoorah for the odds and ends found in my pantry. The scant 1/4 cup of brown rice left in the bag gets added to the pot as does the Parmesan rind (added for flavor, remove before serving) and lone carrot in the produce bin. Proper seasoning and time transform humble ingredient into steaming bowls of goodness that will make anyone glad to be sitting at your table.
As I have tinkered with adding different combinations of ingredients to the pot, I’ve become enamored with the combination of Italian sausage with escarole. Escarole is a leafy lettuce, a member of the endive family, that in the past I have used only for salads. However, it turns out that, unlike most lettuce varieties, it holds up well to cooking and I’ve been adding it to my soup pot. Escarole is not quite as bold as kale or chard and won’t wilt as much as spinach. When you pick up a head of escarole next to the romaine at the grocery store, you might question the logic of adding it to the pot, but misgivings will disappear when you see that it performs beautifully.
Sausage, from kielbasa to chorizo, could take this soup in many different flavorful directions, but I am partial to Italian sausage in this recipe. Typically found in grocery stores as sweet, mild or hot, I prefer the hot for an extra kick. Although to appease many different palates, I recommend mild or sweet Italian sausage for the soup and a bottle of hot sauce on the table. Whatever type of sausage you choose, make sure to go to the trouble of browning it for better texture and flavor in the soup. Happy cooking!
Sausage, Escarole, and Bean Soup – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 4 as a main course
2 tablespoons olive oil
19 ounces hot Italian Sausage, sliced
1 large celery stalk, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large head escarole, washed, drained, and roughly chopped
1 (15-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes with its juices
6 cups homemade or less sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt, if needed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional garnish: freshly grated parmesan cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sliced Italian sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown, about 7 minutes. Remove the browned sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside in a small bowl.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the celery, carrot, and onion to the pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the chopped escarole and cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and bay leaf and bring the soup to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the beans and sausage. Simmer 45 minutes then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the soup as is or top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!