Recipe for beef and escarole soup with mushrooms and orzo
If I'd had an Italian grandmother, I probably would have grown up with a love of escarole. Instead, I came to it late in life, and now I can't seem to get enough of it. Like most dark and leafy greens, escarole tastes slightly bitter when raw. However, when you cook it into a soup, it mellows and sweetens. Pair it with some hot pepper or pepper flakes, and crunchy sea salt. You can make this soup with ground turkey or pork, or go meatless, but don't forget the cheese rind.
Beef and escarole soup with mushrooms and orzo
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb extra-lean ground beef
1 head escarole, chopped and washed
1 clove of garlic
4 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp thyme
A pinch of piment d'Espellette or red pepper flakes
A pinch of Mor-sels or sea salt
8 cups of homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken broth
1 rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup orzo
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the beef, and cook, stirring and breaking up any big clumps, until lightly browned. Add the escarole (don't worry; it will cook down), onion, and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add mushrooms, thyme, Espellette pepper, sea salt, chicken broth and parmesan cheese. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the orzo, and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve hot, or let cool completely and freeze.