Comforting ESCAROLE and BEAN SOUP!

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1/3 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium head of escarole, about 1 pound, washed and sliced ½ “ lengthwise
½ -1 teaspoon Kosher salt (depending on the saltiness of the broth and beans)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans (white kidney), drained and rinsed
1” x 2” piece Parmesan rind, about 1 ounce, or larger
Freshly ground black pepper
For serving: freshly grated parmesan cheese, olive for drizzling and crusty bread

Make the soup:
        Heat the olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the escarole and salt, continually stirring until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
        Puree half of the beans in a food processor with ½ cup of the chicken stock until smooth. Alternatively, you could mash them with a fork. Add the pureed and whole beans to the pot along with the rest of the chicken broth, Parmesan cheese rind, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer another 20 minutes. Season with extra salt and pepper, if needed to taste. Remove the rind. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Makes 4-6 servings.     YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Make sure to wash the escarole very well. There can be a lot of grit between the leaves.
2. Pureeing or mashing the beans is must. Don’t skip that step.
3. Never throw away your parmesan rinds! I like Parmigiano Reggiano. They’re great for all kinds of soups and sauces. Simply wrap well in plastic and put them in the freezer until you need them.
4. If you like you can add 1 cup of dry pasta to the soup in the last 10 minutes.