Escarole, White Bean and Sausage Soup

When I saw that we were getting escarole from Tecolote Farms in our Local Box, I was excited for two reasons: (1) I have been craving sausage and escarole soup something fierce (2) I was already planning to visit Tecolote Farms on Saturday for a food swap. It seems silly when I write it down, but I felt like seeing the farmers who grew my Local Box escarole would be like seeing celebrities!!

Tecolote farmers Katie and Dave did not disappoint when I saw them last Saturday.  Their fields are about half an hour east of my house in Austin, flanked by live oak trees and dirt roads.

At the food swap, I managed to keep my celebrity-farmer-worship in check long enough to trade Farmer Katie some muffins for some Tecolote mustard greens. After the food swap Farmer Dave was kind enough to give us  swappers a tour of the farm.

Dave discussed some of the challenges of organic farming in Texas (draught, wind, heat, politics) and gave us some delicious, fresh-picked samples of the crops they’re growing at Tecolote this spring. Here he is, picking some peppery micro-greens for us to try.

As I had hoped, I got to see some of the Local Box escarole while it was still in the field! Dave didn’t seem to mind my paparazzi farm photos too much.

Visiting the farm in person really helped me appreciate how many hours of work local farmers spend providing food for us each week in the city. I left Tecolote Farms with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for locally sourced produce. And a renewed craving for that sausage and escarole soup.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I sourced the sausage in this recipe from Meyers’ Sausage in Elgin. Any sausage would work fine, but I am partial to either Meyers’ smoked sage or Richardson Farms‘ brats because their rich flavor complements the creamy beans and bitter greens in this hearty soup.

Escarole, Sausage and White Bean Soup (serves 4-6)
4 links sausage
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 spring onions
2 cloves garlic
1 head escarole
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
1-3/4 cups cooked white beans, such as cannellini (2, 14.5 ounce cans)
1 cup cooking liquid from the beans (or liquid from the can)
1 quart chicken broth

Cut off the tough bottom stem of the escarole, then wash the remaining leaves in cold water to get rid of any grit. Set the escarole leaves aside to dry. Slice spring onions and mince garlic; set aside.

Slice sausage into rounds and place in a heavy bottomed soup pot. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally. Once the fat from the sausage starts to render, add onions and garlic to the pot and cook until tender. Add Worcestershire sauce and a tablespoon of water to the pot as the sausage mixture continues to cook. Meanwhile, slice the escarole leaves into thin ribbons and mince the parsley. Add these to the pot along with the red pepper and stir. Continue sauteing greens until they lose half their volume, for about 5 minutes.

Once there’s enough room in the pot, add the cooked beans, 1 cup of bean liquid, and 1 quart of chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to low, and allow soup to simmer for about 15 minutes before serving.

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