authentic italian episode #1: escarole soup

by brendan on January 12, 2007

i’ve been really focusing on french cooking the last three years and i’ve loved every minute of it – stocks, sauces, terrines, ‘lesser’ cuts of meat, and mastering some dishes i wouldn’t have attempted a few years ago, has left me with a full belly and a good base. but as we have been getting more and more winter vegetables lately and with the addition of a little baby to the house, i’ve been looking to make some more rustic dishes that aren’t as complex in preparation, but still put a big smile on my face.

as i went and thought about what to do next, i came across a great cookbook that was tucked away in the corner called “Italy: The Beautiful Cookbook”. It’s an oversized cookbook with beautiful photos and dishes from all over italy. most of them are of the rustic variety and every recipe starts from scratch: if the recipes includes pasta it tells you how to make fresh pasta. i was actually given this book by the owner of a now defunct italian restaurant in north beach about 7 years ago, and i had forgotten how much i enjoyed cooking from it, as well as just flipping through the pages and drooling over the pictures.

i quickly decided italian cooking would be my goal for the coming year, and this book my primer. i’m going to try to do a couple recipes a week from this book, take some pictures, and let you all know how it turns out. not as exciting as the girl from new york who made every recipe in julia child’s cookbook in a years time (and who got a book deal might i add), but this is italian cooking – we don’t need all that pressure and structure and the cordon bleu staring over our shoulders….

for my first performance, escarole soup! escarole is a slightly bitter salad green that i was in our box from the farm a few weeks ago. it was about to expire, and i remembered seeing a recipe for soup in the cookbook i am now tackling. it was a pretty easy recipe and made for some good soup. here’s the quick recap:

  • bring chicken stock to a boil and add some carrots, leeks, and onions and let it go for about an hour.
  • after an hour, shred a head of escarole and saute some pig lard (i used wild boar lard)in olive oil with garlic for about 7 minutes.
  • add this to the chicken broth and let cook 10 mins.
  • remove from heat and add two well beaten eggs and stir it all up
  • serve with some grated parmesan and parsley

adding the egg at the end was new to me, but it ended up making the soup pretty hearty. a little crunchy rustic loaf and some red wine, and we were good to go.

that’s all for my first installment of authentic italian – if you want the full recipe, let me know, and if you have any extra pig lard, send it my way.

Previous post:

Next post: