Escarole, like all the chicories, is a bitter leafy green. We admit that a bitter soup doesn't sound too appetizing, but we decided to give this Mark Bittman recipe a try with our huge escarole harvest. These plants have become wonderfully full and large in our garden, but now that our "spring" temperatures are flirting with 100° every day, we are cooking as much escarole as possible before the heat wipes them out. This soup does in fact have some bitter notes, but they are quite subtle. In fact, the escarole becomes surprisingly mild in this soup, which allows many complex flavors to shine.
To accompany the soup, prepare some crostinis topped with some of the cooked greens from the soup. With the addition of a strong blue cheese (we use local cheesemaker Pola's fabulous, creamy blue), these little toasts becomes the perfect accompaniment. The soup, which includes both parmesan and arborio rice, is quite hearty -- almost a liquidy risotto. With the little crostinis served alongside, this is a delicious and filling meal.Escarole Soup with Rice and Escarole Blue Cheese Crostini
soup recipe by Mark Bittman, NY Times; Vegetable Matter crostini recipe
4 Tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
4 cups escarole, washed and chopped
6 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup arborio rice, or other short-grain rice
sea salt and black pepper
2-4 slices sourdough or similar bread
strong, creamy blue cheese, crumbled
- Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add onions and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 more minutes. Add escarole and cook, tossing gently, until it begins to wilt, about another 3 minutes.
- Add stock and rice to the pan, bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
- Meanwhile, put remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet. When oil is hot, add sliced garlic and cook over medium-low heat until it turns golden brown and begins to crisp. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- When rice is cooked through, season soup with salt and pepper, top with a grating of Parmesan and garnish with garlic slivers.
- For crostini, drain about 1/4 cup of the escarole leaves from the soup. They don't need to be totally dry. Heat some olive oil in a pan, then add bread slices. When browned, flip over and top already-grilled side with crumbled blue cheese and escarole leaves. Drizzle a tiny bit of soup on top for added flavor. Remove from pan when cheese is gooey and second side of bread is golden brown. Serve on the side with the soup.
Other Escarole Recipes from Vegetable Matter:Salad of Bitter Italian Greens, Strawberries and Parmesan