Jan is hosting this year’s Ladies Christmas Get-together. Some of her friends are vegetarian. I am making a chicken dish for the meat eaters and a pasta dish for the pasta lovers. We decided that a soup would be a good dish for the vegetarians.
Escrole is an Italian endive, but it not as bitter as the other varieties. You will not find it in your standard supermarket. In San Jose, Lunardi’s sometimes carries it, but it is usually available at Sprouts, on Branham Lane. If the escarole is unavailable in your area, you may use baby spinach.
Karl’s Italian Vegetable Soup
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup pearl onions
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium heirloom carrots, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
32 ounces vegetable broth
1 can (14.5 oz.) fire roasted tomatoes, diced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. black pepper
1 can (14.5 oz.) cannellini beans
1 cup Italian squash, chopped
4 cups fresh escarole leaves, chopped
½ cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
¼ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
¼ cup flat-leafed parsley (optional)
1. In a large pot over medium high heat, sauté the onions and salt in the olive oil, until just starting to brown.
2. Add the celery and carrots. Continue sautéing the vegetables until tender, about five minutes.
3. Pull the vegetables to the edges of the pan and add the garlic to the hole in the center. Sauté for one minute, until fragrant.
4. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, basil, oregano, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
5. Add the beans and squash and continue simmering for three minutes.
6. Add the escarole and bell pepper. Simmer five minutes more.
7. Serve with the Parmesan cheese and parsley on the side to be sprinkled on top, if the diners choose.