Friday, October 26, 2012

Escarole and Bean Soup

I had a wake-up call this past week. You see, I'll be honest with you, I eat a pretty healthy diet. I mean, most of it consists of tons of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. There's a whole lotta color going on in my diet, as I'm sure you can see from the blog. I'm not telling you this to make you feel guilty or to make me feel better about myself. I enjoy eating well because I love how it makes me feel. Simple as that. But here's the wake-up call: it's not all about diet.

The past few weeks have been beyond stressful. Family drama, workplace stress, fears about moving across the country in a few short months (oh yeah, I'm moving to Seattle everyone!), and a few other things have been making it hard for my body to cope. I'm feeding it exceptionally well, but the stress just became too much and bam...I got sick. Not a serious sickness or anything. Just a cold with a little fever and chills and fatigue and you know, the usual. But it made me realize that stress really does have an effect on the immune system. And so I needed a little slowing down and nurturing to get myself back in order.

So, all you beautiful people, bear with me as I post yet another soup recipe. I hope you're not getting bored with me, I just really love soup.  This particular one is really great when you're battling a cold like me because of the greens and lots and lots of garlic. Garlic has antibiotic and antiviral properties, so it's one of those superfoods for cold season. And, the soup is beyond easy to make. It's perfect when all you feel like doing is snuggling in a big blanket and wool socks, when cooking is the last thing you want to do.

Escarole and Bean Soup (makes 4 servings)

1 1/2 cups dry white beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water
1 head of garlic (about 8 cloves)
extra virgin olive oil
2 cups water or homemade vegetable stock, plus more if desired
1 bay leaf
1 large head of escarole
unrefined sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook the soaked beans in plenty of water until nice and tender. Drain and set aside.

2. Peel and chop about 8 cloves of garlic and put in a soup pot. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute for just about 10 seconds. Add the water or stock, one bay leaf, and the cooked beans to the pot. Bring to a simmer.

3. While the beans and water are coming to a simmer, rinse and roughly chop the escarole. Once the beans are simmering, add the escarole to the pot. Stir until the greens have just wilted and are still nice and green. Turn off the heat.  At this point, if you think the soup needs more water or stock, add it. Add a generous amount of salt to the soup at this point. I usually add at least a teaspoon and usually more if I'm just using water, but just salt to your liking. Ladle into bowls and grind lots of fresh pepper on top and finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil.

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