Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage & Greens

I actually have a third tasty soup to share. This one is reminiscent of one of our family favorites, Lentil-Kielbasa Soup. Don’t worry- it’s not so similar that it will prevent me from making my tried and true lentil-sausage soup as well this season. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah Digregorio. I used French green lentils instead of black lentils, modified the proportions and incorporated a mixture of CSA greens including beet greens, broccoli greens and escarole. I also garnished the soup with my CSA parsley instead of basil.

This soup could easily be made on the stove top instead of in a slow cooker. I loved that it gobbled up my CSA greens too.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian pork sausage, loose or removed from its casing
  • olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 oregano sprigs, leaves only, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • generous pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups dried lentils, preferably black beluga (I used French green lentils)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole or chopped tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 5 ounces greens, such as baby spinach or kale, or 1 medium bunch greens, such as chard or kale, stemmed and chopped (I used a mixture of beet & broccoli greens with escarole)
  • 1 T red-wine vinegar
  • chopped fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
  1.  In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula, until it is in small, coarse pieces, and starts to brown and sizzle in its own fat, about 8 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a 5- to 8-quart slow cooker. There should be a thin layer of fat covering the bottom of the skillet. If there is much more than that, pour a bit of the fat off. If there is not enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Add the onion to the skillet, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the onion and garlic powders, the herbs, red pepper flakes and several generous grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Increase heat to medium-high, pour in the wine and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot. Let the wine bubble until the pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.
  7. Scrape the skillet mixture into the slow cooker with the sausage.
  8. Add the bay leaf and the lentils.
  9. Add the tomatoes with their juice. If using whole, crush the tomatoes into pieces using your hands as you add them with their juice.
  10. Pour in the chicken stock.
  11. Season generously with pepper and add 1/2 teaspoon salt if you are using low-sodium stock or 1 teaspoon salt if using homemade unsalted stock. Do not add salt now if you are using fully salted stock.
  12. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low until the lentils are tender, about 6 to 8 hours. (Taste the lentils to make sure they are firm but creamy on the inside; black lentils can vary in their cooking time depending on their age and the heat of your slow cooker.) The soup holds well on warm for 2 additional hours.
  13. Switch the heat to high. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Stir in the greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes for baby spinach, 10 minutes for kale.
  14. Stir in the vinegar.
  15. Serve in bowls, topped with chopped parsley and/or basil and grated Parmesan.

Escarole, Beet, & Tomato Salad with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

I love finding recipes using escarole that are outside of the “Italian soup” box- especially in the summer. This incredible, layered salad was elevated by the warm shallot vinaigrette and the creamy blue cheese topping. It was slightly- and wonderfully- wilted from the warm beets and dressing.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I roasted the beets instead of steaming them, and modified the proportions. I loved the color variation from the mixed-color tomatoes and combination of golden and red beets. It was a true celebration of my CSA share. 🙂

  • 2 bunches beets, bulbs peeled, trimmed, and cubed, greens reserved for another use (I used golden & red beets)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (I used 1 large shallot with 2 bulbs)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting shallots
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
  • 1 cup halved cherry or mixed-color tomatoes (5 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 to 1/2 large head escarole, core and dark outer leaves removed; inner, light-green leaves washed, well dried, and torn into 2-inch pieces (4 packed cups)
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh dill
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, preferably Danish, thinly sliced or broken into chunks (I used Castello Creamy Blue Danish Cheese)
  1. Set oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Place cubed beets on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Place beets in pre-heated oven, and roast for approximately 30 minutes, or until caramelized and tender.
  4. Meanwhile, combine shallot, oil, and a pinch of salt in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then whisk in vinegar. Season with pepper and more salt, if desired.
  5. When beets are cool enough to handle, toss with tomatoes, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons warm dressing.
  6. In a large bowl, combine escarole leaves, beet mixture, and dill. Toss with additional vinaigrette as desired; season with salt and pepper.
  7. Top with cheese and serve with remaining vinaigrette alongside.

Italian Potato-Pasta Soup with Greens

My husband is not partial to brothy soups. Making this one required some convincing, but I was able to win him over by the inclusion of pasta and potatoes. By the way, he loved it. 🙂

This wonderful soup recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I increased the onions, garlic, and kale, and added fresh lemon juice. I also used my homemade turkey stock. We ate it with a green salad, of course, and sliced sourdough baguette. It was surprisingly filling! Absolutely delicious too.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for garnish
  • 2 cups+ diced onion (I used 1 1/2 large onions)
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced fennel or celery
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large thyme sprig or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • parmesan rind, optional
  • 3 quarts/12 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water (I used  2 quarts of homemade turkey stock and 1 quart of chicken stock)
  • 2 pounds medium-size starchy potatoes, such as Yukon Golds or russets, peeled (if desired) and cut in 1-inch chunks (I skipped peeling the potatoes)
  • 6 to 8 ounces kale or chard, stems removed, leaves sliced across into 1/2-inch ribbons (about 6-7 cups total)
  • Âœ pound dried pennette, orecchiette or other small pasta
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or marjoram, for garnish
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  1. In a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion, carrot and fennel, stir, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened and golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the heat to prevent vegetables from browning or scorching.
  2. Stir in bay leaf, thyme sprig, garlic, paprika tomato paste, and parmesan rind (if using), and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add broth, potatoes and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a brisk simmer. Cook until potatoes are cooked through but still firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  3. Stir in kale and pasta and simmer another 10 minutes, or until greens are well cooked and pasta is done. (Soup can be made up to this point, without the pasta, cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
  4. Add the fresh lemon juice and stir to incorporate.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls, and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and Parmesan. Drizzle each serving with a teaspoon of olive oil, if desired. Pass extra Parmesan at the table.

Note: If making ahead of time, do not add the pasta until reheating.

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Fried Eggs with Greens & Mushrooms

This is another greens-loaded, fast and delicious weeknight meal. It would also be wonderful served at a brunch. The sage-chile butter really added something special to the finished dish. Hearty and vegetarian. Great!

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I increased the amount of garlic and greens. I also used a combination of escarole, sugarloaf chicory, turnip and kohlrabi greens from my CSA share; any combination of greens would work well. We ate it with a sourdough baguette. I read a suggestion to eat it with grits which would be another tasty option.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4

For the Sage-Chile Butter:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon small sage leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

For the Eggs and Greens:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8-12 cups cooking greens (cut into 3/4-inch-wide ribbons), such as collard, mustard, or kale (or any combination)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • finely grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • sourdough baguette, for serving, if desired
  1. Make the sage-chile butter: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sage and red-pepper flakes. Simmer until sage is crisp, about 3 minutes.
  2. Make the eggs and greens: Heat a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat. Swirl in oil. Cook mushrooms with 1/2 teaspoon salt until golden and tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in garlic, then greens and water.
  4. Cook, stirring, until greens wilt. Add unsalted butter, and stir until melted.
  5. Push greens to make 4 wells. Crack 1 egg into each. Season with salt (and pepper, if desired). Cook for 4 minutes. Let stand until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes.
  6. Drizzle with sage-chile butter. Garnish with grated cheese accompanied by baguette slices, as desired.

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Light Italian Wedding Soup

This is a lighter version of this classic soup. It has turkey instead of pork meatballs. The meatballs are also cooked in the liquid instead of being fried. This soup is also loaded with greens.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I increased the garlic and used a combination of escarole and organic Tuscan kale instead of escarole alone. Swiss chard, beet greens, or broccoli rabe would also work well. It was very flavorful and hearty. Add some warm, crusty bread and it’s a perfect meal for the cold weather. 🙂

  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark-meat (93 percent lean)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 heads escarole (2 pounds total), cored, trimmed, and coarsely chopped or 1 head escarole (about 11 oz) and 1 bunch (about 12 oz) Tuscan kale, ribs removed
  1. In a bowl, combine turkey, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using 1 tablespoon for each, roll mixture into balls. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add broth and tomatoes (with juice); bring to a simmer.
  4. Add meatballs; cook, without stirring, until meatballs float to surface, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add as many greens to pot as will fit. Cook, gradually adding remaining greens, until wilted and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  6. Thin soup with water if desired; season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve soup sprinkled with more Parmesan.

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Pizza with Escarole, Fontina, & Walnuts

IMG_9438

Oh, escarole…. Why does every recipe for escarole involve some sort of white bean soup? I’m sure it is all delicious, but I don’t want to eat that sort of dish in July!

I am usually stumped when I receive a GIGANTIC head of escarole in my farm share. I have sautéed it as a side dish and enjoyed it in Escarole, Feta, & Shrimp Pasta. This recipe was a new application and I really enjoyed it. The greens were wonderful with the fontina. I used my new favorite pizza dough recipe, 24-Hour Pizza Dough, as the base.

This recipe was adapted from The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant by Deborah Madison. It was a fun change for Movie Night Pizza. (This week was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!)

If someone has a favorite escarole recipe to share- please let me know…

  • 24-hour pizza dough
  • 1-2 T chopped, roasted walnuts
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 head escarole, washed and cut into 1-inch ribbons
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 5 oz Fontina cheese, grated
  1. Prepare the pizza dough. If using 24-Hour pizza dough, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 T olive oil in a large skillet, and sauté the onion for 3 to 4 minutes, until it begins to soften.
  3. Stir in the garlic, add the escarole, salt lightly, and cover. Let the escarole cook down for 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the salt and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, vinegar, and chili flakes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If using a pizza stone, warm it for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Shape the dough, place it on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel, and brush it with olive oil.
  6. Distribute all but a couple of tablespoons of the Fontina cheese over the dough. Cover with the escarole, walnuts, and then the rest of the cheese.
  7. Slide the pizza onto the stone and bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are nicely browned.

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One Year Ago:

Escarole, Feta & Shrimp Pasta

When I have escarole in my CSA box, I try to make something new. It seems that the most classic use for escarole is in an Italian white bean soup, but I try to branch out. 😉

This is a quick, cheesy, creamy, TERRIFIC escarole pasta dish. We loved it. The recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I used one half of a head of escarole subsidized with CSA turnip and beet greens. I also modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound to 1 pound short pasta, such as campanelle, farfalle, cappellacci, or gigli
  • 1 large head escarole, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch strips (I used 1/2 head escarole as well as turnip and beet greens)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3/4 to 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 8 ounces feta, crumbled (about 2 cups)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 1 minute less than package instructions.
  2. Add escarole and cook 1 minute. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  4. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  5. Add shrimp, season with salt, and cook until opaque throughout, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add pasta mixture and scant 1/2 cup pasta water and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in yogurt, feta, and dill. If necessary, add more pasta water to create a light sauce that coats pasta. (I reserve the additional pasta water to use when reheating leftovers.)
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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