Lidia Bastianich offers this classic Escarole and White Bean Soup recipe from her new special on PBS. She says it was one of the first dishes on the menu when she and her husband opened their first restaurant, and it is still a family favorite at home. The vegetables are typically served in a loose broth under stuffed calamari, but they are great on their own or with simply grilled calamari or octopus, and delicious with sauteed or grilled shrimp. It is a recipe featured in “PBS’ Lidia Celebrates America: Flavors that Define Us.”
ESCAROLE AND WHITE BEAN SOUP
1 1/2 cups dried cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 fresh bay leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
2 whole dried pepperoncini
8 cups packed coarsely shredded escarole leaves, preferably the tough outer leaves, washed and drained
1 cup prepared tomato sauce
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Transfer the drained beans to a large Dutch oven. Pour in water to cover by 2 inches, add the bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the water is simmering, pour in 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Season the beans to taste with salt and discard the bay leaves.
Wipe the Dutch oven dry, and add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the garlic and pepperoncini, and cook until they are sizzling and golden, about 2 minutes. Add the escarole, and cook and stir until it begins to wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add beans, tomato sauce, and reserved cooking liquid. Simmer until thick but still saucy, about 7 to 8 minutes. Season with salt, and sprinkle with the chives.
The Associated Press