An Italian café in New York City’s Chelsea gallery district was serving a soup like this one on a blustery winter day as my husband and I were enjoying the gallery scene. Alas, it had a meat stock, so I was unable to try it. The combination of potatoes, escarole, and chickpeas sounded so good that I made a note of it and decided to create my own version of this comforting soup, which is indeed perfect for a chilly day.
Italian-Style Potato & Escarole Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
6 medium or 4 large potatoes, preferably russet or golden, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
One 32-ounce carton low-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
One 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas or cannellini, drained and rinsed
1 medium head (6 to 8 ounces) escarole, coarsely chopped and rinsed
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden, stirring frequently.
Add the potatoes, carrots, broth, basil, thyme, and 2 cups water. Bring to a gentle boil, then cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.
Stir in the chickpeas or beans, escarole, and half of the parsley. Simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the escarole is tender.
With the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher, mash some of the potatoes right in the soup pot, to give it a nice base. Stir in water as needed (up to 2 cups). The soup should be thick, but not overly so. Return to a simmer. Stir in the remaining parsley, season with salt and pepper, then serve.
If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or more before serving, then heat through, as needed.
Makes 6 servings.
This soup is delcious with kale, chard, or broccoli rabe. Use equivalent amounts (as listed in the ingredients list); stem and chop the kale and chard; cut broccoli rabe into 1/2-inch segments.
Reprinted with permission from Wild About Greens © 2012 by Nava Atlas, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photographs by Susan Voisin.