When I see a beautiful head of fresh escarole in the market, my mind goes into planning mode. With about 10 cups of coarsely chopped escarole from one head, I often make more than one meal from it.  First Pasta e Escarole then Escarole and White Bean Soup, the latter from my defunct daily syndicated column, Express Lane Cooking (ELC).

In ELC, I divide the ingredients into Necessities (what you need to purchase or have), On Hand (ingredients generally in your pantry) and Not So Necessary (ingredients that you can add if you want to, yet they are not necessary for the success of the recipe). Then, after I tell you how to make the soup, I share ideas for when you have More Time.

Don’t forget to rinse the escarole well as it can be sandy.

Escarole and White Bean Soup 

Prep time: 10
Cook time: 15
4 servings

Bulk chorizo or spicy pork sausage (8 ounces), crumbled
Escarole (1 pound), rinsed, trimmed, and chopped
Cannellini beans (19-ounce can), rinsed and drained
Chicken broth (32-ounce container)
Grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup)

On Hand:
Olive oil
Garlic cloves (2) minced
Black pepper

Not So Necessary:
Crushed red pepper flakes

How to:  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage, stirring until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard all but about 1 tablespoon fat. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in escarole and garlic until escarole wilts, about 3 minutes. Mash half the beans with a fork. Add all the beans, broth, some salt, pepper and, if using, red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Serve topped with cheese.

More Time: Cook dried beans; use 2 cups for the recipe; reserve rest for other uses.