This time of year, I can't give away enough of my delicious escarole that comes up on its own in the garden. Many of my friends do not like to eat it in a salad because it can be bitter. Personally, I love the bitterness and it is the main component in my winter salads. (And no, I don't buy that crap about not eating salads in winter because our ancestors wouldn't have access to it. I have tons of access to it starting from the first fall rains until spring heat sends it bolting.)
Here's my super easy escarole soup recipe using mostly seasonal ingredients:
1-1/2 cup home-made chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried wakame
1 bunching onion
1 bulb fennel
several leaves escarole
sprig parsley or celery tops
salt and pepper to taste
Soak the wakame and slice. (Complete the circle by cooling the wakame soaking water and using it to water the escarole in the garden.) Slice the tender part of the bunching onion and reserve the tops for a later batch of broth. Trim and thinly slice the fennel, reserving the tops for later. Wash and trim the tops off the escarole and chop the whitish bottom parts of the leaf (for about 1/2 to 1 cup). Bring the broth to a boil, add in the wakame, fennel and onion and cook for a few minutes until tender. Turn off the heat, add the escarole immediately. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Season and add in the parsley or celery tops.
This makes enough for a large bowl of soup or two mugs. I like it because it is crunchy and chewy, but also warm. This is also a great recipe for people who are a bit leery of home-grown escarole. Worms, snails and slugs just LOVE escarole and call it home. Here's hoping the crunch is due to the escarole itself, and not the squatters.