White Bean and Bacon Soup with Escarole
Bacon is a fundamental ingredient in many slow-cooked recipes, imparting richness to otherwise one-dimensional dishes. Mild applewood-smoked bacon enhances the subtle flavors of this soup of beans and greens.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 ounces applewood-smoked 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
- 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.
Stir in escarole. Cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.