All Posts for March 2018

Escarole and White Bean Soup from Soup Swap Cookbook

Friday, March 30th, 2018

Earlier this month I reviewed Kathy Gunst’s wonderful book, Soup Swap,  with beautiful photos.

Here is that link:

I also posted her Pea Broth recipe with the review and promised the Escarole and White Bean Broth, which I made a few days ago and it was yummy!  Here is the recipe with my photo. (Note: The recipe has “with Parmesan Cheese” at the end of the title, but I did not add the cheese, so the recipe I made was vegan. It is from her vegetarian soup chapter, which also contains several soup stocks. One is used in this recipe.)


Makes 10 to 12 Tasting Portions (for a soup swap) or 8 full servings

Escarole, a slightly bitter variety of endive, looks like a big head of lettuce with broad leaves and a wonderful crunch. High in folic acid and fiber, it’s loaded with vitamins and makes an excellent soup. This is a thick, warming soup with white cannellini beans and lots of garlic. If you have Parmesan cheese rind in your freezer, add it to the soup; before serving, be sure to remove it with a slotted spoon. The soup has a surprisingly complex flavor but takes well under an hour to make! You could also top it with some cooked, crumbled pancetta or bacon. (Note from Ellen Sue: I topped it with Kathy’s polenta croutons, which I will post soon. Also, the author includes metric measurements in [  ].)

2 lb. [910 g] escarole
2 medium leeks or 2 medium sweet onions
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cups [660 g)] cooked white cannellini beans or canned beans (drained, rinsed, and re-drained)
7 cups [1/7 L] Vegetable Stock
Parmesan cheese rind (optional), plus 1/2 cup [40 g]
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Core the escarole. Rinse under cold water and thoroughly dry. Finely chop one half and coarsely chop the other half; set aside. Trim off the dark green sections from the leeks and save for making vegetable stock. Halve the pale green and white sections lengthwise. Rinse under cold water, pat dry, and cut crosswise into thin pieces. (If using onions, cut them into thin slices.)

2. In a large stockpot over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add 1 1/4 tsp. of the thyme and season with salt and pepper.

3. Using a food processor or blender, purée 1 cup [220 g] of the beans, the remaining 1 1/4 tsp. thyme, and one cup [240 ml] of the vegetable stockuntil smooth. Add the bean purée and remaining  2 cups [440 g] beans to the pot. Turn the heat to medium, add all the escarole, and cook, stirring for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the leaves are just wilted. Turn the heat to high, add the remaining 6 cups [1.4 L] vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Add the Parmesan rind (if using), turn the heat to low, and cook,partially covered, for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Remove the rind from the soup.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve hot, sprinkled with grated cheese. (Note: I topped mine with the polenta croutons, which I will post in an upcoming blog.)

TO GO (for Soup Swap meal): Pack the grated cheese separately.





Raquela: A Woman of Israel by Ruth Gruber

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

I honored photo-journalist Ruth Gruber earlier this month on International Women’s Day (March 8th) as part of Women’s History Month. (Here is the link to that posting: )

I also wanted to review this book during Women’s History Month because the true main character, Raquela, is a great example of a fearless woman in modern history, perhaps not well-known, but worth knowing!  I think the  book is a tribute to the spirit of women whoi may not be famous, but are instrumental in creating a world where women are equal to men in their accomplishments and deserving of praise.

is the true story of nurse Raquela Prywes, born in Israel with many generations before her living in (then) Palestine. Ruth Gruber chose Raquela because she represented the history of Israel. When Ruth met Raquela, she knew her search for such as woman was over. As the author writes in the Preface: Five minutes after I met Raquela Prywes (pronounced PRIV-ess) in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, I knew my search was over. Beneath her serenity and composure, I sensed a woman of passion. Love was a word that sprang to mind as we continued to talking—love for her country, for her people, for her family. Hers was a passion for life.

Raquel is a love story, a story of wars, a history lesson on Israel, and a description of a nurse who herself was a witness to history, because as a nurse/midwife she delivered babies in a Holocaust refugee camp, aided injured soldiers in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and also organized hospitals in the 1967 Six-Day War to save the lives of fighters. In referring to Raquela, the back cover states: “Along the way, her own life was a series of triumphs and tragedies mirroring those of the newly formed Jewish state.” Ruth Gruber ‘s choice of Raquela is a perfect example for a woman of Israel! (Published by Open Road, New York, $14.95 soft cover)

What I love about Ruth’s books is that she writes her creative non-fiction like novels, with dialogue and descriptions that could easily be fiction, including humor and sensitivity….. except they are not! She has a wonderful way of telling her stories, perhaps because she herself was an eye-witness to so many historical events, taking wonderful photos along the way, and capturing the hearts of those she helped. For example, her book Haven, about accompanying almost 1000 refugees from  dying in Hitler’s Nazi concentration camps (Jews and non-Jews), is such a moving story that I can understand why Ruth Gruber kept in touch with so many of the survivors and that this journey defined her life. (A brief description is noted in the Wikipedia excerpt in the link on her life, above.)

I wish I would have known about Ruth Gruber when she was still alive and well and writing. She has inspired me to be the best I can in whatever way I can, because that is what she did. Her brilliance and compassion shine through every one of her books that I have read.

(As I celebrate my 12 anniversary of blogging Menupause, I wish I could have interviewed Ruth in person for Menupause while she was still alive. I started this in 2006, and she did not die until 2016, so such an interview could have happened.  My loss!)