In the Crisper
Featured Veg: Escarole
Prep: Wash in several changes of water
Eat: Raw in salad, sautéed, in soup
Substitute: Kale, collards, spinach (cooked in soup) or bitter salad greens (raw)
Did you see the movie Juno a few years back? I thought she was such an appealing character. She really had my respect, my loyalty. I was with her through the teen pregnancy, and when she started spending too much time with the married dude, and even when she ding-dong-ditched like a complete spaz. I was there for her, man.
But we parted ways big time when she made fun of The Girl Who Smelled Like Soup. Probably you don't even remember that part. Probably I wouldn't either if it hadn't sent a prickly chill of recognition down my spine.
Here's the thing, though. I'm the girl who smells like soup. I smell like soup on this very day. I'm quite certain that I showed up to high school on more than one occasion smelling like soup as well.
And do you know what, Juno? Soup smells good. Today is a pretty good day. Even if we can't be friends.
Serious eaters, why am I laying this sad argument between me and a fictional high schooler on all of you? Two reasons, my friends. One: I'm just a little miswired like that. Two: When one of you asked for advice on how to use escarole, this soup--an updated version of the one that perfumed my childhood bookbags--is the recipe I wanted to share with you.
This soup is inseparable from the complex aromas that belie its quick and easy nature; and if we're being honest here, those aromas are inseparable from, well, me. All of which is to say that I'm just a little miswired like that. So only one reason, really. But a mighty fine, soup-smelling reason it is. If I do say so.
Quick Escarole and Bean Soup with Pistachio Pesto
- 1 head escarole
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
- 2 cans (15.5-ounce each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 can (14.50-ounce) diced tomatoes with their juices
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- A generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- One recipe Pistachio Pesto, for serving (see below)
- 1/4 cup raw, unsalted, shelled pistachios
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Zest of 1/2 lemon, grated on a rasp
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 cups basil leaves, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Chop the escarole crosswise and wash as directed In the Crisper. Drain, but do not dry.
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium pot. Add the chopped garlic, anchovy fillets, and minced rosemary and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant and the anchovies have almost completely dissolved. Add the chopped escarole and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until the escarole has wilted.
Meanwhile, combine one can of beans with half the chicken stock in a blender and blend until completely puréed. (Alternatively, combine these ingredients in a large bowl and use an immersion blender.)
Add the bean-stock mixture to the pot, along with the remaining beans and stock, the diced tomatoes with their juices, the grated cheese, and the pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Ladel into bowls and serve with a spoonful of Pistachio Pesto
In a small skillet, toast the pistachios over low heat until lightly browned and fragrant.
Combine the pistachios, salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice, and basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Pulse until the pistachios are very finely chopped. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil through the feed tube.
Remove the pesto to a small bowl and stir in the grated cheese.