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Lentil and Escarole Soup

This lentil and escarole soup, made with carrot, onion, celery, tomatoes, and olive oil, is finished with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano, is rustic Italian cooking at its finest.

In the words of one of our recipe testers, this lentil and escarole soup is “truly the epitome of classic rustic Italian cooking.” We don’t disagree. Loaded with lentils and vegetables and finished with plenty of Parmigiano-Reggiano, it’s incredibly soul satisfying despite being tossed together with ease from inexpensive pantry staples. It also just happens to be vegetarian and gluten-free. In true Italian fashion, here’s to the simple things in life that taste anything but simple.–Angie Zoobkoff

*NOTE What Are Umbrian Lentils?

Tiny, deep green, and fragrant, lentils from the high, dry plains of Castelluccio in Umbria are considered some of the world’s best. They’re packed with minerals and are especially tender. However, these superior lentils aren’t abundant—a factor that contributes to their prized status. They’re commonplace in soup, a favorite wintertime primo. Because Umbrian lentils hold their shape particularly well during cooking, the soup remains brothy rather than thick and creamy.

Lentil and Escarole Soup

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 25 M
  • Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 onion (10 oz), finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • homemade chicken stock, plus more as needed” data-metric=”950 ml canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock, plus more as needed”>4 cups canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 8 ounces Umbrian lentils* (see NOTE above) or brown lentils (1 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
  • One (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional), plus grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 head escarole (about 8 ounces), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces (or substitute spinach, Swiss chard, Lacinato kale, or Belgian endive)

Directions

  • 1. In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, warm the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. [Editor’s Note: Yes, that’s a lot of oil for not a lot of vegetables. We’re asking you to take a leap of faith here. The generous amount of oil lends the finished soup an unmistakable richness that we suspect you’ll appreciate.]
  • 2. Stir in the garlic and parsley and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth or stock, water, lentils, tomatoes and their juice, Parmigiano rind, if using, and bay leaves and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes if using brown lentils and about 1 hour if using Umbrian lentils.
  • 3. Remove and discard the Parmigiano rind, if using, as well as the bay leaves. Stir in the escarole, a handful at a time, and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes or so. If you prefer a brothier consistency to your soup, add more hot broth as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 4. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with extra oil, if desired. Pass the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side.

Lentil and Escarole Soup Recipe © 2018 America’s Test Kitchen. Photo © 2018 America’s Test Kitchen. All rights reserved. All recipes and photos used with permission of the publisher.

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