Friday, March 20th, was “officially” the first day of Spring ’09 and we woke up to a dusting of fresh snow! And one last time (my husband hopes!), we saw fat snowflakes clinging to the still, leafless branches of trees and frosting the bushes and shrubs white. “A not-so-warm welcome to spring!”, I thought to myself as I filled my cup of coffee and went back to the window. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful sight, first thing in the morning!
As I took the first sip of my coffee and turned my computer on, I was glad I didn’t have to commute in the morning and had the luxury of working from home. But most signs of snow were gone by mid-morning and within a couple of hours it had started to warm up a little, melting the snow away. Soon the sun came back up in the sky, reminding us that spring is just around the corner!
Since I was at home all day and it was still a little cold out there, a hearty bowl of soup that needed very little effort and not much time, sounded like a perfect idea for lunch. Well, the “soup season” is not over yet! So here’s another one, to make the most of the season while it lasts….
Escarole with Cannelini Beans, Pasta and Asiago Cheese
Ah, Escarole and White Bean Soup! I had been wanting to try this soup recipe after seeing my favorite star chef make it on Foodnetwork and I also had all the ingredients on the list readily available from a pasta dish that I made for dinner a couple of days back.
So I pulled a pot out of the cabinet and started sautéing some onions and garlic. Then I chopped up some escarole and threw it in along with the cannellini beans and poured in the chicken stock. To add more weight to the soup I decided to stir in little pasta elbows and grated Asiago cheese. Half an hour later look what I got!
Escarole adds a nice green touch to this delicious soup. The pasta and Asiago cheese are a hearty addition to this wonderful slew of nutritious veggies and white beans. After one bowl of this rich soup for lunch, I was ready log off from work and take the rest of the day off!
Serves 2 meals or 4 first courses
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
½ bunch of escarole, roughly chopped
1 (15 oz/425g) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups (32 oz./945 ml/1qt box) vegetable stock or low-sodium chicken
½ cup (a handful) short shape pasta (like elbow, ditalini, fiori)
¼ cup grated aged Asiago cheese
fresh ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium – high and sauté garlic and onions till they are fragrant and become transluscent, for 2-3 mins. Add the escarole and sauté until wilted, about 2 mins. Stir in the beans and season with salt and pepper.
Continue sautéing for 1-2 mins more. Pour in the stock and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and continue boiling uncovered for 10-11 mins till the pasta cooks (See the packet of pasta for cooking duration).
Turn the heat down and simmer for 10-15 mins.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Grate Parmesan cheese over each and serve hot with bread sticks.