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Escarole and Spinach Soup

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I have been in possession recently of a very large can of Virginia peanuts, one of my favourite things to eat on earth. It’s foolish to pretend that a small handful will curb the peanut craving. But I do take out a small handful, put the lid back on, put the can away (Ha, the wishful thinking!) and crunch away. Then I take out the can again, remove another small handful, put the can away and eat those. Then I do it one more time. And maybe one more time.

All of this is to explain why I’d been craving a cleansing soup, a bracing soup, a soup that feels almost acerbic in nature. A soup that makes me feel a bit less guilty about pulling out that peanut can yet one more time. And while this soup is all of that, it’s also delicious, and doesn’t feel punishing in the slightest.

I think this recipe benefits from a very liberal hand with the peppermill, but that’s a personal preference. To make the soup more substantial, you can add a can of rinsed and drained white beans, such as navy or cannellini.

And now, maybe I’ll have one more small bowl..

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ESCAROLE AND SPINACH SOUP

Servings: 8 to 10

Start to finish: 40 minutes

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2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 cups roughly chopped escarole, rinsed and excess water shaken off

4 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (optional)

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

10 ounces baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve (optional)

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Heat the oil in a heavy, large pot or Dutch oven at medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the onion is tender and golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium-high, add the escarole, and cook, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes, until the escarole is wilted. Add the broth, beans (if using) and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the escarole is tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Adjust the seasonings.

Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese if desired, and serve hot.

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