Escarole and White Bean Soup from Soup Swap Cookbook

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.





Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst

I love soup. So when I saw an article about this new book, Soup Swap, I sent for a review copy and received it almost immediately! (It isn’t always this easy.) As the inside flap on this paper-bound, colorful 8″X9″ cookbook with many beautiful photographs by Yvonne Duivenvoorden states:

“Homemade soup — comforting, flavorful, and nutritious  — is made for sharing.”  I agree! In fact, the sub-title says just that: “Comforting Recipes to Make and Share.”

The Introduction explains how soup swapping came about and how you can create your own soup swap party with any number of people, keeping in mind that you may have only four burners on your stove top, although crock pots and ovenware can also be used to keep soups hot.

Author Kathy Dunst notes in the Intro that there were some unexpected “gifts” from this concept. Winter seemed shorter as well as exciting, the challenge of becoming a “soup master” gave a new dimension to the long, cold winters in New England where Kathy lives (southern Maine). And for some of the participants, creating soups from scratch led to a more healthful diet. (I like this “gift” the best!)

The next section is very important for those of us who feel this idea has merit, because author Dunst provides clear-cut suggestions in this section, entitled “The Basics of Hosting a Soup Swap.” This includes coding the recipes as to their content: dairy-free, gluten-free, etc., marked with colored circles and letters like DF for Dairy Free. These demarcations are important since so many people are on special diets. (See coding symbols under the recipe title below.) There is one more code for soups that can be served cold (a blue circle with the letter C inside it), but the recipe below doesn’t have that code.

This section also covers Portions, Toppings, Side Dishes, No Spills, Drinks, Leftovers, etc. and mouth-watering colored photos of soups and fixings to add to the soups before serving. Everything looks delicious!

The section on Foundations does just that; it gives recipes for making your own soup stock, which is easier than you think. (I posted my recipe on stock from scratch some time ago. Here is the link: I plan to make the recipe for Pea Broth, since it is something new for me, using shells from English peas. (See recipe below.)

The main part of the book is, of course, the soup recipes divided into: Vegetable Soups, Chicken and Turkey Soups, Meat Soups, Fish & Seafood Soups & Chowders, Side Dishes, Garnishes and Toppings.
Because I don’t eat meat, the recipes I looked at are meatless, but because there are many soup recipes without meat (25) as well as in the Side Dishes and Garnishes & Toppings, the book is still very useful for vegetarians.

Below is the recipe for (meatless) Pea Broth, followed later this month by the Escarole and White Bean Soup. (I definitely plan to make this before reviewing it, since I enjoyed this soup recently at an Italian restaurant in Florida and planned to look up a recipe for this soup anyway.)

Soup Swap, released in 2016, by Kathy Gunst with wonderful photos by  Yvonne Duivenvoorden is published by Chronicle Books in San Francisco and costs $24.95. (Check out Amazon, Alibris, Barnes & Noble, and eBay for new and used copies. Mine get marked up anyway, so I look for used copies when I can’t obtain a review copy. )



Makes about 8 cups (2 L)+

(Explained in the text above, these stand for
Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegetarian & Vegan)

The time to make this sweet pea broth is late spring/early summer, when fresh peas are plentiful. As you shell the peas for soup or salad, be sure to keep the shells to make this broth. It offers an exceptionally pure, subtly sweet flavor. This broth is the base of Late-Spring Pea and Lettuce Soup (page 53), but it can be used as a vegetable broth in virtually any recipe.

4 lb. [1.8 kg] shells from shelling peas (also called English peas)
or from sugar snap peas
1 onion, chopped
Dark green leaves from 1 large leek (optional)
6 peppercorns
1/2 cup [30 g] packed chopped fresh parsley with stems
1/3 cup [20 g] packed chopped fresh chives
Sea Salt*
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large stockpot, combine the pea shells, onion, leek leaves (if using), peppercorns, parsley, and chives and season with salt.* Add enough cold water to just barely cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.Taste the broth. If the flavor is weak, remove the lid and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the flavors have bloomed. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding pepper and more salt if needed. Strain the stock, pressing down on the pea shells to release all the juice, and let cool.
  1. Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

*On the previous page, the author writes about salt and pepper. She likes to use sea salt and does not give specific amounts, since you may be using a canned or box stock instead of water and some are high in sodium, others not. She notes that the homemade stocks need a lot less salt. If you use kosher salt, an option, kosher salt is a good choice, and you will need even less than sea salt, “because kosher salt has larger and lighter crystals. Gunst also recommends buying a pepper grinder as a worthwhile investment, because grinding your own fresh peppercorns “makes a world of difference in cooking.”

+ Metric system demarcations for Canadians buying this book. (The photographer is from Canada.)

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