Escarole and White Bean Soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces slab bacon, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions (about 6 ounces each), finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 quarts homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 4- 15 oz. cans OR 1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • 3 large thyme sprigs
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 head escarole, cut crosswise into strips

Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add bacon, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.

Add onions and shallot to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more.

Return bacon to pan. Stir in stock, beans, thyme, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover, and cook until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours more if using dried beans or cook 10 minutes more if using canned beans.

Stir in escarole. Cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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