Escarole, Bean, and Pancetta Soup – Zuppa di Scarola, Fagioli e Pancetta

Last week Vince at Scordo posted a recipe for Escarole and Bean Soup. It looked tasty to me, and just as I was tucking it away in my memory, wouldn’t you know my mother-in-law gave us a bunch of escarole the next day?

I more or less stuck to Vince’s basic recipe but added some pancetta — and then P wanted some soup pasta with it so we threw that in as well (although that’s not in the photo below).

This recipe is super easy and delicious, especially if you use canned beans. As Vince mentions, your own soaked beans inevitably taste better and are less expensive, though, so give them a try sometime as well.

Overall, I have to say, if you’re looking for a hearty, warm-your-soul kind of meal, this is a wonderful choice.

Escarole, Bean, and Pancetta Soup — Zuppa di Scarola, Fagioli e Pancetta

Escarole, bean, and pancetta soup

Just grab a spoon and a hunk of bread!

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, each cut in half
  • 1 peperoncino, cut into a few pieces
  • 40 g of pancetta, cubed
  • Bunch of escarole, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans
  • 1 liter of water
  • Salt to taste

1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large soup pot and sautรฉe garlic, peperoncino, and pancetta for a few minutes.

2. Add escarole and sautรฉe until wilted, being sure to coat thoroughly with the oil mixture. Add a bit of salt as well.

3. Add water, beans, and a bit more salt. Cover, turn down heat to low, and let simmer until the escarole is done to your liking — at least 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Serve hot with fresh chunky bread; although it’s not very Italian of me, a slab of butter on the bread and then dipped in the soup just makes everything right with the world.

Buon appetito!

14 Beans of Wisdom to “Escarole, Bean, and Pancetta Soup – Zuppa di Scarola, Fagioli e Pancetta”
  1. I have been making mostly stick to your ribs dishes lately, the weather has been so miserable I can’t imagine having anything else. Pancetta just makes everything better doesn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    It’s hard to imagine where pancetta wouldn’t belong, I agree Joanne ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Martha

    This soup is looking really good. Stole some beans from Piero’s pot. He’s making pasta e fagioli and I wanted something less rib sticking today.
    And it seems the sun is making a very hushed appearance today..but not by much.

    Mmmm I think stolen beans might taste the best. Hahaha ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 11.17.2010

    Mmm.. I’ve been stuck with a nasty cold the past few days and this soup looks like sumthing that might make me feel better ๐Ÿ™‚

    I hope it does the trick, Henway!

  4. 11.17.2010

    Always a great combination, Michelle. Thanks for the reminder. I make beans by the pound by soaking & then putting in the slower cooker overnight. Done in the a.m. & no weird smell in apt. all day. Then I divvy up into however many containers I want & freeze some, keep rest in liquid in fridge. This isn’t solely for cost/taste reasons (though mostly)…I have to carry everything home & cans. Oof.

    I think the recipe ingredient list is missing beans…but maybe I’ve not had enough coffee … or it was so that we’d click over to the recipe. Which I will do…


    Indeed I forgot the beans! Thanks Susan ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Look great, Michelle!

    Thanks again for the inspiration, Vince!

  6. I LOVE escarole. My cousins call it ‘scarole

    Sounds right Mimi ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Gil

    I love escarole and beans! Recipe similar to my wife’s, she leaves out the peperoncino.

    It’s a wonderful classic for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. 11.19.2010

    I’ve never had escarole, but this has me wanting to hunt some down! I love that it’s finally soup season. Thanks for sharing!

    Hope you enjoy it Kalee!

  9. 11.19.2010

    Thanks for the comment on my blog Michelle! I’d emailed with you a couple years ago when I first found your blog and I was planning to get married in Pizzo. I’m a lawyer too and remember thinking you’d done it right by clerking and getting out! I should have referenced your blog too since it’s the first Am-Calabrian blog I ever read. Adding the reference now. Anyway, husband’s family is in San Teodoro part of Nicastro/Lamezia, up on a hill, no water at night. Insane! But I think things are getting easier than they were when his dad’s friend moved back about 25 years ago.

    Yes, I’d say some things have probably changed in 25 years — I think things have gotten considerably easier to do (so to speak) just since I’ve been here. For instance, there was only dial-up when I came, and now we have higher speed Internet ๐Ÿ™‚ If/when you get back this way, let me know!

  10. 11.21.2010

    Wow – I just finished dinner and was so proud of staying on my diet, then I take a look at this and am suddenly hungry again. It does look delicious.

    Thanks for coming by!

  11. 11.22.2010

    oh, this sounds super yummy! Definitely filing it away for a nice mid-winter evening. Thanks!

    Hope you like it Courtney!

  12. 11.23.2010

    We’ll be back in Calabria in late April probably. I’ll update the deets on my blog when we decide for sure (we’re going to Boston first, then maybe stopping in PA and Paris on the same trip). Maybe we’ll come visit you so we can flush the toilet or shower at night. Hehe!

    Haha don’t jinx me! I really enjoy the running water 24/7! So I’m guessing the highlight of that trip would surely be PA, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m from PA ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Daniel

    Catching up on your posts after a week on the road, and this one looks great! The only recipe I have right now for escarole soup is Marcella’s recipe for Zuppa di scarola e risi … I’d like to give this one a try.

    I’m going to be making some guanciale soon, so I’m thinking, too, that I might try a version in which I would substitute guanciale for the pancetta… mmmmmm.

  14. 11.24.2010

    A bowl of this right now sounds so good!

    It’s a great warmer-upper indeed!

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



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