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Escarole & White Bean Soup with Rustic Croutons

Steve Hunter

Servings: four.

This is my variation on a classic Italian soup that traditionally has more escarole and beans than broth. Escarole is one of the easiest greens to prepare since you don’t need to stem it; just slice the whole head across into ribbons before washing.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (6 oz.), diced
  • 2 oz. very thinly sliced pancetta, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 medium to large head escarole (about 14 oz.), trimmed of outer leaves, 2 inches of root end cut off, leaves sliced across into 3/4-inch wide strips (to yield about 9 to 10 cups), thoroughly washed
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken stock (canned is fine, but don’t use low-fat varieties, which I find have an off flavor)
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini, navy beans, or other white beans (I use canned—Goya brand—drained)
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 2 cups Rustic Croutons (see below)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 390
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 220
  • Fat (g): 25
  • Saturated Fat (g): 5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 16
  • Cholesterol (mg): 15
  • Sodium (mg): 1080
  • Carbohydrates (g): 30
  • Fiber (g): 9
  • Protein (g): 14


  • Heat the olive oil in a 4-qt. low-sided soup pot or Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onion and pancetta and sauté until the onion is softened and both are browned, about 12 minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the escarole and stir thoroughly to coat the leaves (and to deglaze the pan slightly with their moisture). Season with 1/2 tsp. of the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Add the stock, stir well, and bring to a boil; cover the pot, lower to a simmer, and cook 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover the pot, add the beans, and simmer another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and turn off the heat. Ladle the soup into four shallow soup bowls and top each with 1 Tbs. of the cheese and a quarter of the croutons.
  • Rustic croutons
    Heat 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups (lightly packed) 3/4-inch cubes of bread, cut from a good, airy, crusty loaf like ciabatta. Stir to coat the cubes with the oil, season with salt, and sauté, stirring constantly, until crisp and browned on most sides, 2 to 4 minutes.


Rate or Review

Reviews (7 reviews)

  • user-4637753 | 10/05/2019

    Been told this is restaurant quality soup, and it's so easy. Variations have ranged from Turkey meatballs added at the simmer stage. Add just the right layer of flavor. Garlic Ciabatta croutons have made it sing. Finally, completely vegetarian by omitting all meat and using vegetable stock. When in a pinch and escarole is not available then I have used spinach. I am looking forward to adding sausage and trying that.

  • butta211 | 02/20/2018

    Delicious and easy. I do agree you could probably just add smoked paprika if you wanted to eliminate the bacon but its so good with it. I did not add the croutons or parm and it was great although crusty bread would be good if it was served for dinner. Will make again!

  • grlup | 10/31/2012

    Love this soup. A real keeper in this family. Very easy and not very prep intensive. Other than the escarole you can have all these ingredients in your pantry or freezer/fridge for a quick go-to meal. Another time saver is to buy the escarole already cleaned and cut. Perfect soup for a busy night.

  • User avater
    yanji | 12/03/2011

    This has become our "go-to" soup throughout the year! While it's delicious and easy to make as written it's also tasty without meat (and using vegetable stock), with a variety of fresh or frozen greens (kale, spinach, mustard), with bacon, ham or sausage, etc. I typically serve it with a slice of crusty bread & radishes and forgo the croutons. However, it's a perfectly tasty and filling meal in and of itself.

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