This past weekend, Cook’s Book and I had our first major debut! Beneath the bulk of the Sunday pages in Long Island/New York City newspaper, Newsday, I was profiled in “Who’s Cooking,” a long running column that spotlights a new home cook every week.
Reporter Linda Perney asked me a few questions about the blog, my interest in cooking, and background in the kitchen. Along with the brief Q & A, I got to provide a recipe and have my photo taken. In a whirlwind of clicks and flashes, busy Newsday photographer Kevin Coughlin dashed into my house and around my kitchen quickly snapping photo after photo. Look here! Click. Smile! Click. Look busy! Click, click. Before I could say “Vogue” he was onto the next assignment.
I wanted to provide a recipe ideal for the cool weather seasons. Hearty, simple, and full of great flavor, the answer was white bean and escarole soup with chorizo sausage and Parmigiano croutons. I took a classic and spun it my way. Meaty white cannellini beans and escarole, a slightly bitter green, always work very well together. The chorizo adds a little extra kick to the soup and even more substance to every bite. Parmigiano croutons are my complimentary “gourmet” alternative to saltine and oyster crackers.
Chorizo is a pork sausage that comes in both Mexican and Spanish varieties. Although the two share a name, a large dose of garlic, and hog ancestry, there are a number of differences that set the two apart. In the simplest terms, Mexican chorizo is made of fresh pork and chiles, while Spanish chorizo is prepared with smoked pork and seasoned with paprika. Spanish chorizo (the kind that is used in this recipe) does not need to be cooked. You will find chorizo in the Latin aisle or section of most large grocery stores; Goya makes a pretty good one.
After a few weekends of anxiously checking the paper, there I finally was, right in the center of the “life” section, smiling and holding up my soup. Very cool!
White Bean and Escarole Soup with Chorizo Sausage and Parmigiano Croutons:
Yield: 6-8 servings
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 plum tomatoes, diced
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 pound escarole, chopped
- ½ cup white wine
- Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 2, 15.5 oz cans cannellini beans
- 4 oz/ 1 cup Spanish chorizo sausage (cured smoked pork sausage), remove casing, slice sausage in half length-wise and cut into half- moon shapes.
- Leaves stripped from 2 sprigs of thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- About ½ loaf Italian, French, or other crusty-type bread, sliced and cut into ½ inch cubes.
- ½ cup (or more as needed) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra peeled with a vegetable peeler in strips to garnish top of soup (optional).
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat; add onions and cook until translucent. Next, add tomato, garlic, and red pepper flakes and sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant--about a minute. Add escarole and cook for about 2 minutes until wilted. Add white wine. After the wine comes to a boil, add lemon juice, chicken stock, beans, and chorizo; bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add thyme leaves and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 20-30 minutes, allowing liquid to slightly reduce.
• Put bread cubes onto a sheet tray and toast in the oven. Keep a watchful eye. When the bread is midway to being completely toasted, remove from the oven and sprinkle each cube with grated Parmigiano cheese. Return back to oven and finish until the bread is golden and crispy, and the cheese is melted.
• To serve, ladle warm soup into bowls and garnish with croutons and Parmigiano Reggiano strips.