This healthy and tasty soup makes a quick main course
Homemade tomato soup? Yes!
Add beans and a leafy green (like escarole) to the mix, and you have a hearty one-pot dinner.
OK, you could add some crusty bread and maybe a salad if you want a bit more. It would still be a quick and easy weeknight meal.
For a weekend dinner, just add a glass of wine. Red or white – your choice.
Recipe: Tomato and White Bean Soup with Escarole
We use canned tomatoes and beans for this dish because we always have them in our pantry. And so this soup can be a last-minute idea.
Prep time for this dish is about 15 minutes. Cooking adds another 30 to 35 minutes (mostly unattended).
This recipe makes 4 to 6 main-course servings. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container. Or you can freeze them for several months.
- 1 onion (yellow or white)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or other oil of choice)
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (about half a dozen grinds for us)
- 2 15-ounce cans white beans
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (may substitute water)
- 1 small bunch of escarole (can substitute another green; see Notes)
- Peel the onion and cut it into ½-inch dice. Peel the garlic and mince it or slice it thinly.
- Place a 4-quart cooking pot on medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the oil. When the oil is heated (about 15 seconds; it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onion and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes).
- While the onion is cooking, open the beans and pour them into a strainer or colander that you’ve set in the kitchen sink. Rinse off the gunk the beans are stored in. When the onion is translucent, add the chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, and dried thyme. Sauté for 1 minute. Then add the white beans and tomatoes, along with enough stock or water to produce a “soupy” consistency. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the escarole and tear it into small pieces. Just before you’re ready to serve, add the escarole to the soup pot and cook until tender – a minute or two.
- Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, then ladle up the soup.
- We like to use cannellini beans in this dish. But any kind of white bean (such as Great Northerns) will work.
- Escarole seems to have a particular affinity for white beans (its flavor blends especially well with them).
- Escarole is part of the chicory family, which also includes Belgian endive and radicchio. Escarole’s flavor is less sharp and bitter than that of its vegetable cousins, though. Escarole is very tender and cooks quickly.
- Although escarole is considered a “green,” in the supermarket it’s often shelved with lettuce, not with other greens like kale. In fact, it looks rather like leafy lettuce.
- Don’t want to use escarole? Almost any green will work. We particularly like to use kale or Swiss chard in soup, but use whatever you fancy. Do note that other greens will probably take longer to cook than escarole.
- We use dried thyme in this soup, but other herbs would work too. Oregano or marjoram would be particularly nice. Or chop some fresh rosemary to add to the mix. You could even stir in some fresh basil when you add the escarole.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the flakes are larger and coarser, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- Want to garnish this soup? Just sprinkle on some chopped parsley. Or maybe some grated cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano would be quite nice). You could even use chopped nuts – walnuts or pecans, for example. Or a chopped hard-boiled egg.
Coloring Outside the Lines
“The escarole is a nice touch,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Adds lots of flavor and texture.”
“Extra color too,” I said. “Solid-gold recipe.”
“Not to mention red hot,” said Mrs K R.
“So you’re saying this is a blue-chip dish?” I asked.
“Yup, I’d green light this one,” said Mrs K R.
“Gosh, thanks,” I said. “Glad to have your praise in black and white.”
In fact, I’m tickled pink.
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