Wednesday, February 23, 2011

White Bean, Wheat Berry & Escarole Soup

If you're not into "health food", don't let the title of this one put you off - it's so hearty and delicious, you'll forget that it's good for you.

1# Dried lima beans, picked over (sub: navy or any other white bean of choice)
2 smoked ham hocks
8 c. chicken stock
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 c. wheat berries
2 med onions, diced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1# escarole, washed, ribs removed, and chopped (sub: Swiss chard or kale)
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 t dried rosemary, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 t thyme
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
Pecorino Romano cheese(sub: fresh parmesan)

Day before: Soak beans in 8 c water and 3 T of salt overnight.

In soup pot, saute onion, carrot, celery, rosemary, thyme, and bay in EVO with a pinch of salt and pepper until softened. Add ham hocks, beans, garlic and stock, bringing to boil. Turn down to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring and skimming off froth and scum from top occasionally. Add wheat berries, removing ham hocks and setting aside to cool. Let simmer another 1-2 hours, until beans are tender and wheat berries are cooked through. During this time, when ham bones have cooled, remove meat and set aside, discarding gristle, bones, and fat. Make sure any softened marrow left in the bones is removed with a butter knife and added to the soup pot. When beans are ready, add escarole, ham meat, and additional salt and pepper if necessary. Bring to a low boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Right before serving, add the handful of fresh chopped parsley, stirring well.

Garnish: Freshly grated pecorino Romano

Rec: Excellent with foccacia or pieces of crusty Italian bread

Notes: If there isn't very much meat on your ham bones, feel free to add some diced lean ham to the soup for the last 30 minutes of cooking.

You could also make this in the crock pot, just note that you will have to occasionally skim the top of the soup. Make sure you give the greens and ham about an hour to cook on high before serving.

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