Escarole and bean soup is nourishing, comforting, and can be ready in less than an hour.  Pancetta, onion, garlic, and cannellini beans are simmered with potatoes and escarole in a tasty broth.  This soup is best served with a side of crusty bread, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese. 

Large wooden ladle with escarole and white bean soup.

Editor’s Note: Originally Published on June 20, 2019.  Updated with full process shots and expanded info.

There is something truly special about soup and its ability to soothe the body and soul.

Escarole and bean soup is something I grew up eating, and every time I enjoy a bowl of it I wonder why I don’t make it more often.

It’s one of the easiest soups you can make, is customizable to your diet (ie. can be made vegetarian or vegan by omitting a few ingredients), and is full of simple ingredients that are very budget-friendly.

I serve this white bean and escarole soup to my family in bowls with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a chunk of crusty bread, or garlic bread.

Ingredients shown: cannellini beans, escarole, celery, chicken stock, olive oil, potatoes, pancetta, onion, garlic, and Parmigiano rind.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Wash one head of escarole and remove any of the rough outer leaves and the core.  Chop the escarole, slice 3 cloves of garlic, dice one medium onion and three ribs of celery.  Cut 2 medium Russet potatoes into small cubes.  Note: Feel free to use any starchy white potato.

Escarole and white bean soup recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Dice 4 ounces of pancetta and in a large heavy pot saute it in a 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-low heat until most of the fat renders (about 10-12 minutes).
  2. Add the celery and onion and continue to cook for an additional 7 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently to coat with them with the oil and pancetta fat.  Add the garlic and cook for two minutes more.
  2. Add 6 cups of low-sodium chicken stock, 1 Parmigiano Reggiano rind, and 1 pound of cannellini beans. Note:  The cheese rind is optional, but it will add a nice depth of flavor to the soup.

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. Allow the soup to simmer for around 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash some of the beans and potatoes against the side of the pot.  This will help to thicken the soup.
  2. Add the chopped escarole and cook until tender (about 5 minutes).

Recipe process shot collage group number four.

  1. Once tender, season with salt and pepper to taste.  If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock or water until the desired consistency is achieved.  Conversely, if too thin, just mash more of the beans and potatoes to thicken.  Remove the cheese rind and serve in bowls with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Top tips for escarole and bean soup

  • A word about escarole. Escarole is a beloved Italian green that looks very similar to romaine lettuce.  It also tends to be extremely dirty and gritty so washing it is key.  You may need to wash it multiple times in order to remove the grit.  Using a salad spinner can help the process.
  • The beans. Similar to my Tuscan white bean soup, I used dried cannellini beans that I soaked overnight because they’re a bit more budget-friendly, but if you are pressed for time you can definitely use canned beans.  A 1-pound bag of dried beans is equal to roughly 3 1/2 16-ounce cans of beans.  Other beans that would work are chickpeas or borlotti beans which are the beans that are traditionally used in pasta fazool.
  • Adaptations.  If you’d like to make this bean and escarole soup vegetarian, you can omit the pancetta and use more olive oil, and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock or water.  To make it vegan, omit both as well as the cheese.  Similar to our beans and greens sausage pasta, crumbled sausage and spinach or other greens would be great additions!

Escarole bean soup in black bowl with piece of bread dipped into bowl.

More soup recipes

Here are a few of our favorite soup recipes we know you’ll love!

If you’ve enjoyed this white bean escarole soup recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and tell us about it in the comments below.

We strive to satisfy a number of learning styles.  If you are someone who prefers to learn by watching, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.

Escarole and Bean Soup

4.97 from 33 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 8
Escarole and bean soup with potatoes and pancetta simmered in a chicken-based broth is nourishing, delicious, and can be ready in under an hour.

Ingredients 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta diced
  • 3 ribs celery diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans soaked overnight, or 3 16-ounce cans
  • 1 head escarole washed and chopped
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock plus more to thin as needed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small Parmigiano Reggiano rind optional
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano for serving

Instructions 

  • In a large heavy pot saute the pancetta in olive oil over medium-low heat until most of the fat renders (about 10-12 minutes). Next, add in the celery and onion and continue to cook for about 7 more minutes or until the veggies are softened.
  • Add in the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to coat with the oil.
  • Add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more, then add the chicken stock, Parmigiano rind, and beans. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.
  • Let the soup simmer for around 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes and beans are tender. Using a wooden spoon, mash some of the beans and potatoes against the side of the pot to help thicken the soup.
  • Next, add the escarole and cook until tender. Once tender (about 5 minutes) season with salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock or water to thin to desired consistency.
  • Remove the cheese rind and serve in bowls with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano. Make sure to serve with plenty of crusty Italian bread as well. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Outer leaves and the core of escarole should be discarded.  To clean escarole, use a large salad spinner or soak leaves in a large bowl with cold water for 5 minutes then remove and change the water 1-2 more times.  The dirt and grit will move to the bottom of the bowl.
  • If using dried beans that have been soaked overnight, be sure they've softened a bit before adding to the soup.  If they haven't, boil them in a separate pot for 5 minutes, then simmer until softened.
  • For a vegetarian dish use vegetable stock and omit the pancetta and chicken stock.
  • Make sure to serve with plenty of crusty bread, grated cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and hot red pepper flakes on the side.
  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 432mg | Potassium: 1320mg | Fiber: 18.1g | Sugar: 2.4g | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!Check us out on Instagram at @sipandfeast or tag #sipandfeast!

This recipe was originally published on June 20, 2019.  It was completely updated on October 4, 2022.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

63 Comments

  1. sandy Reid says:

    Loved it and love that picture of it. Great explaining the process, Deliciosa. Thank you

    1. James says:

      So happy you enjoyed, Sandy!

  2. Donna says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this twice ! Delicious and full of flavor. I used chunks of pepperoni
    Instead of pancetta. Loved it! Thank you!

  3. Mike Letizia says:

    5 stars
    We made this yesterday and it fabulous! We opted for the dried beans and that made a big difference. Such a healthy and comforting soup.

  4. ray grisi says:

    Grandmother made this not as a soup just escarole, cannellini beans, garlic, oil and a few splashes of water. Another dish she made she called manest (not soup). Potatoes, zucchini onion, peppers cabbage and some other vegs. thrown in. Small about of tomato sauce. Enjoyed with a hard piece of Italian bread. Forgive me for asking, you may already have this on the site I did not check. Easter Pizza gaine savory and sweet. Thanks.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Ray, yes, we have recipes for pizzagaina and for pastiera napoletana here on the website. You can use the search function to find both.

    2. Julie says:

      5 stars
      This is one of my favorites! I’ve made this a few times now… and not only do I love it… my friends love me for it. I can’t find escarole… so i use Kale. It’s seriously so goooooooooood~

      1. Tara says:

        So happy you enjoyed, Julie!

  5. Cristina Le Couteur says:

    5 stars
    Thank you very much