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July 8, 2010

Recipe for turkey escarole soup

Turkey escarole soup

I first published this recipe in a newsletter I used to send out once a month, and since then I've updated it ever-so-slightly and shared it on The Perfect Pantry. Judging by the number of people who've written to tell me they've fallen in love with this recipe, it's my all-time #1 best soup and it started, as many great soups do, as a "fridge dump". Store-bought low-sodium stock or broth actually works better in this soup than homemade (did you ever think you'd hear me say that?), but use whatever you have on hand. After all, that's the whole point of a fridge dump! Substitute spinach for escarole, or ground chicken for ground turkey, but don't omit the parmesan cheese rind; it makes all the difference.

Turkey escarole soup

Serves 6-8.


2 tsp olive oil
1-1/4 lb ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp mild or hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 tsp dried thyme leaf or 4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 large head escarole, washed, roughly chopped (or 2 small bags of baby spinach)
6 oz ground or chopped canned tomato, or fresh tomato
4 cups chicken stock (low-sodium store-bought, or homemade)
1 cup water, if needed to cover
1/4 cup small pasta (orzo, pilaf noodles, spaghetti broken into small pieces, etc.)
Rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (the secret ingredient) -- any size you have


In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, and sauté ground turkey until no longer pink. Add onion, zucchini and mushrooms, and sauté until onions are translucent. Stir in pepper flakes, thyme and black pepper.

Add escarole or spinach, and stir to combine. When the escarole is just slightly wilted, add tomato and stock, water if needed, pasta, and the cheese rind. After the escarole has cooked down, add a cup or two of water, if the soup seems too thick.

Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. If you used homemade chicken stock, you might need to add salt and more pepper, to taste.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Susan @ SGCC | July 8, 2010 at 09:28 AM

Ah! The memories! Both my mom and my grandma used to make this soup all the time. They made it with tiny little meatballs that simmered in the stock, and sometimes threw in a can of cannellini beans too. Delicious!

Posted by: Lydia | July 8, 2010 at 11:50 PM

Susan, this definitely has its roots in Italian wedding soup, which is made with the tiny meatballs. I think I'm too lazy to form the meatballs, so I just brown the turkey in the pot before adding the remaining ingredients.

Posted by: Karina | July 9, 2010 at 01:04 PM

I love "ever so slightly" updating! Cooking is all about tweaking- going with the moment. And this soup looks tempting and delicious.

Posted by: Alta | July 13, 2010 at 02:41 PM

Sounds great! I love using a parmesan rind in a soup. Before I went dairy-free (so alas, I'll have to omit it!) I used to save them for my "special something" in my homemade chicken stock. This sounds really delicious.

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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