A mainstay of Italian country cooking with an oriental twist – the addition of shiitake mushrooms.
1 pound dried white navy beans
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium escarole, washed well and chopped
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium escarole, washed and shredded
5 cups good-quality vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1. Soak beans in water overnight, then drain and rinse well.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot and add mushrooms, garlic, and escarole and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add stock, rinsed navy beans, herbs, salt, and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
3. Puree 3 cups of soup in a blender (to make the beans creamy) and pour back into the pot. Add lemon juice, and more self and pepper if needed.
4. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Top each portion with some of the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.