This recipe for Escarole & Pasta Soup is healthy, flavor-packed, satisfying soup. It’s an Italian classic that’s perfect for a quick, warming, weeknight meal.
I absolutely love escarole soup. My Italian grandmother made it for me all the time as a child and it’s real comfort food. When I moved to England, I was devastated to find out that you can’t buy it in supermarkets. I tried many different kinds of greens to take its place, but never found anything similar. On trips home, I would go to the grocery store, buy a bunch of escarole and eat it throughout my visit. This year, all of that changed when we moved into a new house and I met my next-door neighbor.
The man next door has a huge garden of fresh vegetables. He took me in his backyard to show me after we moved in. I was blown away at how many lovely things he had grown back there. Everything from tomatoes to artichokes (another favorite that’s hard to find). I asked him if I bought some seeds if he’d try growing the escarole for me. He didn’t hesitate and agreed right away. All I had to do was share some of my soup with him. So I bought the seeds, gave them to him and to be quite honest I forgot all about it. A few months later he came to my door and told me it grew quite successfully. I was so excited! I grabbed my camera and my son and I joined him to marvel at my freshly grown escarole!
When I got there I was shocked to see he had planted more escarole than a girl could eat! There must have been 30 heads of it! I couldn’t fit them all in one frame as I started snapping pictures! Not only that but he surprised me with a second batch he planted so I’d have more once I ran out. What a wonderful neighbor!
He asked my son if he wanted to try pulling some from the ground and he jumped at the chance!
Once we got home, I couldn’t wait to get cooking. Washing it straight out of the ground was a bit of work, but I thought it would be well worth the effort. I cooked a huge batch of soup and much to my surprise, it was so bitter, it was hardly edible! Now, it had been 3 years since I’ve had escarole so I thought maybe I never realized it’s bitterness before. I mean I grew up on the stuff, but after some research, it turns out that the out leaves are very bitter and I guess when you but it at the grocery store they are already removed. The second batch of soup was better, but still a bit bitter. After a little more research, I found that lemon juice cuts the bitterness. It did and I finally mastered cooking escarole straight from the ground.
I’ve included the lemon juice in the recipe for anyone that finds escarole too bitter, but it can also be omitted.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 pound escarole, cleaned & chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, Optional - used to cut the bitterness
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 ounce piece Parmesan cheese on the rind
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces pasta
- grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook until soft.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute.
- Add the escarole and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice, chicken stock, Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt.
- Cover and simmer until the escarole is the softness you prefer.
- While the soup simmers, cook the pasta according to package instructions and set aside until needed.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Ladle onto the pasta in soup bowls. Serve with crusty bread.