Soups on! Chickpea and Escarole Soup

As I type this post, snow is falling lightly outside the window – the first of the season. We haven’t had much appreciable snow for years and this storm is to be no different – our forecast calls for it soon to turn to rain. A soup pot is warming on the stove; a constant since my first run-in with Covid on Christmas Day. (Luckily, a very mild case which gave me a few very welcomed days on the couch.) Now these January days offer another opportunity to reset from the excess and whirlwind of the holidays – and for us, that means big ‘ole pots of soup on repeat.

This soup took me by surprise. Admittedly, I do not buy escarole often. I tend to ignore those beautiful heads of fluffy green when I am in the market – but this time, the heads looked so fresh and vibrant that I just couldn’t walk on by. So I decided to make a pot of soup that our Mom made on occasion – a marriage of escarole with creamy chickpeas.

And now, I am at a complete loss as to why I do not cook with escarole more often. We have been eating this soup for a few days – and after each bowl, one of us invariably comments – ‘Wow this is really flavorful.’ Escarole is the perfect green for soups – sturdy and silky; adding a subtle taste without any trace of bitterness. It marries beautifully with the creamy chickpeas, making for a delicious light soup that is quite refreshing.

If you do make this soup at home, I am going to make a plea for starting with dried chickpeas. Yes, it is an extra (easy) step that requires a little planning – but boy, do dried chickpeas make this soup sing. The flavorful chickpea cooking liquid is used in the soup making everything meld together into a steaming bowl of deliciousness. With so few ingredients, the extra punch of flavor brings it all together. (However, despite my plea, do know that you absolutely can make this soup using canned chickpeas and stock with good results.) I have written the recipe using either dried or canned chickpeas – so you can use either approach (but, nudge, nudge – dried chickpeas are the way to go.)

Chickpea and Escarole Soup | OurItalianTable.com

One little trick that hopefully you are already doing when making soup, sauce, or beans is tossing in the rind from that last block of Parmigiano-Reggiano you purchased. Throughout the year, as I use up blocks of cheese, I toss the rinds into a bag that I keep in the freezer. No need to thaw the rind before you use it – just toss it in the pot and let it simmer away. (My local market has also started selling the rinds so you can most likely find these in your local market.) This unami-bomb adds a slightly nutty, savory flavor as it softens into whatever you have tossed it into. The rind will turn squishy – so remember to remove it from the pot before serving.

Chickpea and Escarole Soup | OurItalianTable.com

Wishing everyone a warm and magical new year. ❤️ You will find me in the veggie aisle buying more escarole!

I look forward to sharing this beautiful new year together  …. 

xx Michele ♥️

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Chickpea and Escarole Soup | OurItalianTable.com

Chickpea and Escarole Soup


Description

This simple yet deeply flavorful soup only takes 30 minutes but delivers a delicious soul-warming combination of chickpeas and greens. 


Ingredients

Scale

For the chickpeas (if using dried):

  • 1-pound dried chickpeas
  • ½ large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the soup: 

  • 1 large head escarole
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups cooked chickpeas (from 1 pound dried or 3 (15-ounce) cans)
  • 8 cups cooking liquid –
    • If using dried chickpeas: a combination of chickpea cooking liquid and water or stock (chicken or vegetable) 
    • If using canned chickpeas: 8 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (optional)
  • Black pepper

To serve:

  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Crusty bread, toasted 

Instructions

  1. Cook the chickpeas (if using dried): If time permits and for a shorter cook time, soak the dried chickpeas overnight. Place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl. Cover with at least 3 inches of water and allow to sit overnight. Drain the chickpeas. Put the chickpeas, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and salt into a large pot. Cover the chickpeas with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover but leave lid ajar. Cook until the chickpeas are soft and tender, about 60 to 90 minutes. (Time will vary depending on whether you had time to soak the chickpeas overnight.) Add additional water if needed to keep the chickpeas covered. 
  2. Make the soup: Roughly chop the escarole. Place in a colander and rinse. 
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in the onion, garlic, a large pinch of salt, and a large pinch of red pepper flakes.  Cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add in the rinsed escarole. (No need to dry the escarole.) Allow the escarole to cook down for a minute or two then stir to combine. 
  5. Stir in the cooked chickpeas. If you used dried chickpeas, add in the chickpea cooking liquid plus additional water or stock to make 8 cups of liquid. If using canned chickpeas, add 8 cups of stock. Add the Parmigiano rind, if using. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste. Adjust salt and black pepper as needed.
  6. To serve, remove the rind. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and toasted bread. 

Join the Conversation

  1. Candace Paryzer says:

    A much better recipe then the one i had learned. More elevated! Thanks Michele!






    1. Michele Author says:

      Grazie, bella!!xx

  2. Alan Saunders says:

    Michelle
    This is absolutely delicious. You cannot believe so few ingredients can make such a fabulous soup. In the UK bavette lettuce is the equivalent for escarole and available from organic farm websites.






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