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Cannellini Bean and Escarole Soup

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Ingredients

1 pound sweet Italian sausage

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 large onion, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)

2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 2 cups)

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about 2 ½ tablespoons)

1 large head escarole, stems removed, chopped (about 6 packed cups)

8-10 cups chicken stock, divided

8 cups home-cooked or canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 3-inch pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind

Kosher salt and green bell pepper

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Freshly shaved or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

Directions

  1. Slit the sausage casings open lengthwise with the tip of a knife and remove them. Break the sausage meat into pieces the size of small meatballs.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan or small Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage into a bowl.
  3. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic to the pot and stir to coat. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 12 minutes.
  4. Add the escarole one handful at a time. Cook, stirring constantly, until it wilts before adding more.
  5. Stir in 8 cups of the stock and the beans. Drop in the cheese rinds.
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and let simmer until the escarole is tender, about 15 minutes. Return the sausage to the pot during the last 5 minutes. If the soup gets too thick, add the rest of the stock.
  7. Season the soup with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Stir in the vinegar. Remove the cheese rinds. Nibble on them, if you wish, or discard them.
  8. Serve the soup hot, topped with a little fresh cheese and a swirl of oil.
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