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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Iannelli-Rubin

Escarole & Bean Soup (Zuppa di Scarola e Cannellini)

Peasant food also known in Italian as "cucina povera" or literally "poor kitchen" or "poor cooking" is nothing more than really simple food, using every ingredient you have accessible. Peasant cooking makes use of whatever is found in the kitchen, household, farm, etc. to prepare meals, and not waste anything! I was raised with this way of cooking. In my opinion, I believe the idea of peasant food has been romanticized by Americans. (We can thank Mario Batali for that.) The concept of cucina povera can be found in every society and is really about making great food with simple, yet high quality that are available (including every part of the animal such as cow intestine, pig ears, goat head, etc.). In Italy, the kitchen of the poor came out of post War conditions and the generally depressed state of southern Italian life where food choices were limited (regardless of War).

Escarole & bean soup is a classic dish that came from the "poor kitchen".

Comforting & silky, this classic peasant dish uses only 4 ingredients. So simple. Escarole, cannalini beans (canned or dried), garlic & olive oil. You can pre-blanch the escarole or toss it into the pot fresh. I also like to add lots of basil to my soup, making it a 5 ingredient dish. Aromatic, mild & fluffy in texture, the creaminess of the #cannalinibeans sautéed with the olive oil, garlic & basil makes the soup decadent.

I enhanced the flavor of the dish with some homemade Parmesan crisps and basil infused olive oil crostini. A perfect comfort food to warm you up on any day!


Escarole & Beans


  • 4, large heads of escarole, cleaned, blanched & chopped (approximately 3 1/2lbs)

  • 4, 15-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed

  • 32oz of vegetable broth

  • 6, large garlic cloves, chopped

  • 3 - 4 tablespoons olive oil (approx)

  • Salt to taste

  • Red pepper (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Once hot, toss in garlic and let sauté until aromatic then toss in your beans. Continue sautéing, until they get hot, then add fresh basil, stirring to combine. Once it is well mixed, add chopped escarole & vegetable stock or water. Bring to a boil.

  2. ​Let is boil for a few minutes, then reduce to simmer for 5-7minutes. Be sure you leave it uncovered.

  3. Remove from heat and plate. Serve with crusty Italian bread & parmesan crisps.


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