Italian Beans and Greens Recipe (Escarole)

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Italian Beans and Greens Recipe (Escarole) is a classic Italian recipe. It is a delicious vegetarian meal that is both healthy and comforting. It all comes together in one pan and takes 20 minutes to make!

White beans and leafy greens (escarole) is a chunky, stew-like dish that needs nothing more than homemade Italian bread to soak up the yummy sauce, or as we say in Italian, “fare la scarpetta”.

Italian beans and greens soup in a bowl on a wooden board with crusty bread .
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This is a simple and humble dish that is full of flavor and nutrition! It is comforting, satisfying, and healthy!

This Italian greens and beans recipe is one you will find at Italian restaurants everywhere as a side dish, but it works well as a vegetarian main course served with crusty bread. It is a hearty dish that you can feel good about eating.

This recipe results in a stew-like consistency. If you prefer to make escarole and bean soup, add more broth.

You can even add bone broth or homemade chicken stock. If you ever make roast chicken that’s the best time to make your own broth!

The creamy cannellini beans melt in your mouth as the complement the other delicious flavors. You will also love this recipe: Warm White Bean Salad Arugula Mozzarella.

ingredient shot for recipe Italian beans and greens

Simple Ingredients

With a few simple ingredients such as canned beans, fresh leafy greens, chicken or veggie broth, good olive oil, and fresh garlic you can make this delicious recipe that is a classic Italian staple.

  • Escarole
  • Cannellini beans
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cloves of Garlic
  • Broth (vegetable broth or chicken broth)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmigiano cheese (parmesan cheese)

See recipe card for quantities.

How To Make Beans And Greens

With a few simple steps you can have this meal or side dish on the table in 20 minutes time!

First, you will need to clean the escarole (similar to cleaning leaf lettuce).

How to clean escarole

To clean escarole or chicory- chop off the bottom root, then cut the leaves roughly. Soak in cold water and either use a salad spinner or a large kitchen towel to dry.

preparing the escarole by cutting off steams.

Cut out the hard steam in the middle of the leaf and discard. Chop escarole and set aside until ready to use.

chopping the escarole.

Cook the beans and greens

process- sautéing garlic in olive oil

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

process: adding escarole to pan with garlic and cooking.

Add the chopped escarole and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.

process; adding beans and chunk of parmigiano parmesan cheese

Add the chicken broth, beans, and Parmesan cheese chunk. Cover and simmer until the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.

process: final dish after done cooking

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add grated parmigiano cheese and serve with crusty bread. 

Substitutions

Here are a some ideas for substituting the main ingredients for ones you have on hand. You will surely love this nutritious meal with any of these substitutions.

Instead of cannellini beans you can use any soft white bean such a great northern beans. I would not recommend black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans.

Italian beans and greens soup in a bowl with crusty bread and escarole leaves in background.

If you can’t find a bunch of escarole, also known as chicory, you can use:

  • spinach
  • collard greens
  • swiss chard
  • romaine lettuce 
  • broccoli rabe

You can use a a mix of your favorite greens as well. If you grow hearty lettuce in your garden this is the perfect Italian recipe for it!

Variations

  • Spicy – add red pepper flakes while cooking to imbue heat into the dish.
  • Meat – try adding Italian sausage to this recipe to add extra protein. You can even sprinkle some fried bacon on top.
  • Bread crumbs- toast some bread crumbs and add them as a garnish.

More delicious soups to try: Italian Pastina Soup Recipe, Classic Italian Minestrone Soup, Classic Italian Wedding Soup Recipe, Pasta e Ceci (Italian Pasta with Chickpea Soup), Tuscan Ribollita- Vegetable Bread Soup, Simple Artichoke Soup, and Zuppa Toscana.

FAQ’s

HOW TO MAKE ESCAROLE LESS BITTER

When cooking you can adjust by adding more olive oil or butter to contrast, and by using little squeeze of lemon juice will counter bitterness. For this recipe-squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon juice into the pot of escarole and beans right at the end of cooking. Acids like lemon juice (vinegar can also be used) help counter the bitter flavor of the greens. It’s a trick you can use for any bitter green!

HOW TO CLEAN AND PREPARE ESCAROLE

To clean, cut off the root end of the escarole head and separate the leaves. Place them in a large bowl of water, swish them around for a minute or two, and then drain. Heat the olive oil over a medium flame in a large soup pot.

What is Escarole?

According to Healthline, this green, flat-leaf vegetable is part of the chicory family.  As you can see, it has broad leaves with jagged edges.
As a variety of endive, it grows in heads with a heart of pale yellow/white leaves, surrounded by larger ones with deep green color.

What does escarole taste like?

Its raw state is mildly bitter, with a flavor similar to curly endive or chicory. The outer leaves have a more bitter taste than the inner ones. As it cooks, the escarole loses its bitterness and becomes pleasantly mild tasting. 
You will love the mild taste in this recipe!

What To Look For When Buying Escarole

Often, escarole will be labeled as just “chicory” in the grocery store. It’s much less common in North American cooking than it is in Italy but you should still be able to find it relatively easily at any “good” store or market. It’s also an easy green to grow yourself if you have a garden. You may be most familiar with it for its role in Italian wedding soup. It’s traditionally the greens used in that recipe.

What to look for when buying escarole:
– Look for green leaves that are crisp and fresh looking;
– Absence of blemished leaves or yellow spots;
– Base, and leaves should be firm.
– Refrigerate up to 4 days, wrapped in damp paper towels.

Italian beans and greens soup in a bowl with a gold and white spoon. Piece of parm cheese next to bowl.

Top tip

  • I recommend removing the inner stem as it can a more bitter taste and can remain tough in texture. You can try it both ways and see which you like best!
  • Add a chunk of parmigiano cheese to enhance the flavor of the broth.

A simple, comforting dish that comes together with little effort. This is an excellent dish for any time of year!

What To Serve With This Recipe

This Italian beans and green soup is great to serve with any kind of homemade bread: Fast Italian No Knead Ciabatta Bread, Italian Focaccia with Apples and Cheese, Fast Italian No Knead Ciabatta Bread, or Easy Soft Italian No Knead Bread.

It pairs well with Crispy Baked Cod with Panko Recipe, or Best Italian Stuffed Chicken Thighs (Involtini di Pollo).

Don’t forget dessert! Simple Italian Apple Cake (one bowl), Italian Chocolate Cake (torta al ciocolato), or Authentic Italian Tiramisu Recipe (easy).

More delicious Italian recipes:

More delicious recipes:

Make sure to leave a ⭐️star rating on the recipe card and comment below if you make the recipe. I love to connect with you through my recipes.

I would love for you to tag me on Instagram @cucinabyelena so I can see your delicious Italian recipes. To get more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

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Italian beans and greens soup in a bowl with a gold and white spoon.

Beans and Greens Recipe

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5 from 5 reviews

Italian Beans and Greens Recipe (Escarole) is a classic Italian recipe. It is delicious vegetarian meal that is both healthy and comforting.White beans and leafy greens (escarole) is a chunky, stew-like dish which needs nothing more than homemade Italian bread to make it a complete meal!

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pound escarole, chopped
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (1-ounce) piece Parmesan (chunk)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated parmigiano cheese for serving

Crusty bread for serving

Instructions

  1. Prepare escarole: chop off the bottom root then cut the leaves roughly. Soak in cold water and either use a salad spinner or a large kitchen towel to dry. Cut out the hard steam in the middle of the leaf and discard. Chop escarole and set aside until ready to use. 
  2. Drain bean liquid and rinse beans. Set aside. 
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
  4. Add the escarole and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt. Add the chicken broth, beans, remaining olive oil, and parmigiano cheese chunk. Cover and simmer until the beans are heated through, about 5-8 minutes. Stir occasionally. 
  5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add grated parmigiano cheese and serve with crusty bread. 
  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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