GG's 'scarole and beans wasn't one of my favorite recipes as a kid but it was one of my favorite things my grandma said out loud, hence "scarole," which was pronounced more like "shkadole." As I got older, I've come to appreciate the hearty bean soup with leafy greens.
When you live in an Italian household, some words you hear a lot but never actually see the word spelled out. Escarole was one of those words. When I was in graduate school, I started calling my grandma more often to walk me through, recipes, whether it was the escarole and beans, the broccoli, rabe, or chicken cutlets.
One time I asked her about the 'scarole and beans and she told me what I needed to get from the store. She said to get the cannellini beans, chicken broth, garlic, and the "shkadol." So, I went to the supermarket and couldn't find it anywhere. Finally, I went up to someone working in the produce section and asked, "where do you keep the "shkadole?" He looked at me like I was out of my mind. He then asked me to repeat myself 2 more times, until he finally realized, "oh, you mean escarole."
I always knew my family had a different way of communicating than other families growing up, but I have always lived in an Italian neighborhood, so most of the time, other families said things the same way we did. Gabagool, mozzarel', or sopressat'. Living away from New York I have to temper my accent and understand that not everyone speaks as they do on Long Island. Just like if you visit New Orleans, and try to communicate with them.
Making 'Scarole and Beans
The thing about my grandma was that she didn't have a recipe book. She wasn't pulling cards out for most of the things we made for dinner. It was all in her head. So, if you called on Wednesday, the recipe might look a little different than on Friday. But the gist was all the same.
Start by mincing up a bunch of garlic. This was the number that changed all the time. Sometimes it was 7 cloves, sometimes it was a whole head. Either way, my motto is always the same, DOUBLE THE GARLIC. Then wash the escarole and roughly chop it into 1-2 inch pieces.
In a heavy bottom pot, bring olive oil to medium-high heat. Once the olive oil is shimmering, add in the garlic and stir. After 1-2 minutes and the edges of the garlic should start to brown. Stir in all the escarole. Stir well for 2 minutes and then cover the pot for 2 minutes. When you open the pot the escarole should have begun to wilt.
Add salt for taste and stir. Pour in the broth and the parmesan rind. Stir and bring to a simmer. Once the soup is simmering, stir in the cannellini beans and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the 'scarole and beans from the heat and serve with some crunchy Italian bread and grated parmesan. Sometimes I also zest some lemon as well.
Hearty Soups and Health
I'm not one to advertise diet food. I'm not saying you should replace your meals with escarole and soup. But adding in hearty soups like Escarole and Beans or Lentil Soup are great ways to add nutrients to your diet. You can keep them in your fridge and have them alongside your meals, or have them as a meal themselves.
Escarole has fiber, antioxidants and polyphenols, and Vitamins C and A. Adding it to your diet is a great way to feel good. Some foods we eat and we just feel great afterward. A hearty healthy soup is one of those for me.
I never ate soup in my early 20's. I always claimed it wasn't enough food for me. But since my wife started making these hearty vegetable soups for me I realized how wrong I was.
GG was the OG. She was always down to talk about food, girls, and the Yankees. I miss her very much and I'm glad I have these recipe calls to remember her. Have some 'scarole and beans and hug your family.
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GG's 'Scarole and Beans
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 heads escarole, chopped
- 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed
- 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock
- 1-2 teaspoon salt
- 1 parmesan rind
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- Add olive to a large pot and bring to medium heat.
- Add in minced garlic and stir often. Once the garlic becomes fragrant and slightly brown, add in escarole and stir until the garlic is mixed thoroughly and the escarole begins to wilt. Stir in the salt.
- Pour in the 4 cups of stock or broth. Add the parmesan rind and cannellini beans. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with grated parmesan and lemon zest, if desired.