Greens and Beans
Once again I come to you with a dish that you probably already have in your bag of tricks. But this is such a quick, virtuous sort of recipe that it bears repeating.
Soups that combine greens and beans are common in Italy, I'm told. Maybe I'll find out firsthand this summer.
Have I mentioned that here? We're going to Italy this summer! Two weeks! Milan! Rome! Pisa! Cinque Terre! I'm reduced to shouting the names of the cities, because I honestly am far too excited to get past that stage.
Anyway. More on that later.
For now: soup. This is healthful and soothing even in summer, when hot soup is perhaps not the first thing on your mind. It also can be on the table in no more than twenty minutes from the minute you open the refrigerator, which is pleasing.
Escarole and Bean Soup
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
2 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 pinches red pepper flakes, optional
1 large head escarole, chopped
4 c. vegetable broth
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 2-inch piece of Parmesan rind
2 Italian-style veggie sausage, sliced, optional
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the garlic and saute about half a minute. Sometimes I let it get a little more color, but don't let it burn.
Add the escarole and cook until wilted, 3-5 minutes. Halfway through the wilting, add the red pepper flakes, if you're using them. Now is also the time to add the veggie sausage, if you're going that route.
Add the broth, beans, and Parmesan rind. Simmer 5-7 minutes, until everything's heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
* You can, of course, use chicken broth and chicken or pork sausage.
* You can also drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil over each bowl, if you like. To be honest, I usually forget, and I never miss it.
* I keep a Ziploc full of Parmesan rinds in the freezer -- they add wonderful body and savoriness to soups like these.