Escarole is Hands-Down Our Favorite Green for Soups (2024)

You can’t make Italian wedding soup without escarole. Well, you can. But it just doesn’t feel right. The pasta shape is flexible. (Or optional, in the case of some recipes.) The meatball makeup is flexible. The beans are flexible. The broth is flexible. But the greens? No, not flexible. It has to be escarole. Why? Because, wedding soup or otherwise, escarole is the best green for soups. Hands down. Full stop. End of story. Period.

Wait, what is escarole though? It’s green and leafy, but is it like kale? Like spinach? Like lettuce? Well, it looks kind of like all of those things. Escarole is leafier than kale, and is usually sold in bunches that look a lot like a head of lettuce, with short, wide, wavy-edged leaves. The color and texture of the leaves varies—those on the outside are darker-green and a bit tougher, while the interior leaves are pale-yellow and more tender.

Flavor-wise, escarole is part of the chicory family, which means it’s related to stuff like endive, radicchio, and other bitter greens. And yes, as the family name “bitter greens” suggests, escarole is a tad bitter. There’s a sharpness that comes with escarole's wide leaves, not quite as much as radicchio, but definitely more than a piece of romaine.

At the grocery store, escarole can be easy to miss, since it’s a chicory that looks like lettuce. If your grocery store carries it, you usually won't find it in the bins with its cousins radicchio and endive; instead, it's normally tucked up near the heads of lettuce and bunches of kale and collards.

Soup BAE.

Escarole is Hands-Down Our Favorite Green for Soups (2024)

FAQs

What does escarole taste like in soup? ›

In it's raw form, escarole is crunchy and mild. I even find it to be a bit sweet. But cook it in some broth, and escarole releases a delicious bitterness.

What is escarole called in a grocery store? ›

Escarole, or broad-leaved endive (var latifolia) has broad, pale green leaves and is less bitter than the other varieties. Varieties or names include broad-leaved endive, Bavarian endive, Batavian endive, grumolo, scarola, and scarole.

How to get the bitterness out of escarole? ›

How Do You Take the Bitterness Out of Escarole? While escarole isn't as inherently bitter as broccoli rabe or radicchio, it does have a mild bitterness to it. It's easy to tame, however, by cooking it in garlicky olive oil and offsetting the bitter with a splash of tangy lemon juice at the end.

What green is closest to escarole? ›

Curly endive in particular has a similar appearance to escarole and is a good substitute. Other alternatives include: Belgian endive, bok choy, broad-leaved endive, Batavian endive, dandelion greens, Chinese cabbage, Napa cabbage, and turnip greens. Most bitter greens can be used in place of escarole.

How long to simmer escarole in soup? ›

Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until evenly browned and crumbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Add chicken broth, beans, tomato sauce, and escarole. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Is escarole good for your kidneys? ›

Also, eating escarole regularly can increase kidney stones in people with kidney problems. The high oxalate content in escarole - a plant compound that helps get rid of excess calcium - is filtered through the kidneys and can affect the kidneys.

Is escarole healthy? ›

This leafy green is a true powerhouse, rich in vitamins A, K, and C, fiber, and folate. Its high water content and low-calorie nature make it an excellent choice for weight management. Additionally, escarole is packed with antioxidants that may help protect against chronic diseases and support a healthy immune system.

What country is escarole from? ›

True endives such as Escarole are believed to be native to Sicily and the Mediterranean region. It has been widely cultivated in England from at least the 1500s. It can be traced back to Greece, Rome, and Egypt where it was used as a salad green.

Can you eat escarole raw? ›

Escarole is a versatile veggie but lends itself particularly well to raw salads and heartier dishes. Its outer leaves are bitter and chewy, while its yellow inner leaves are sweeter and tenderer. An acid like lemon juice or vinegar counters the bitterness of raw escarole.

Which is more bitter escarole or endive? ›

Escarole (var. latifolium), which has smooth, broad leaves and a yellow center. Escarole is less bitter than curly endive.

Why is escarole so hard to find? ›

Unavailable at the Store - Escarole can be hard to find since it's less common than other lettuces. You'll need a backup plan if your grocery store or farmers market doesn't carry it.

What is another name for escarole? ›

Escarole, or broad-leaved endive (var. latifolia), has broad, pale green leaves and is less bitter than the other varieties. Varieties or names include broad-leaved Batavian endive, grumolo, scarola, and scarole. It is eaten like other greens, sauteed, chopped into soups and stews, or as part of a green salad.

Which is healthier, kale or escarole? ›

These two leafy greens are highly nutrient-dense, with similar amounts of calories, carbs, vitamin K, and fiber per serving. Kale has more vitamin C, calcium, and manganese than escarole, while escarole has much more iron and vitamin A.

What is the flavor of escarole? ›

Escarole has a fresh, vegetal taste with light bitterness. It's less bitter than other chicories, with the level of bitterness varying throughout the head. The inner, lighter-colored leaves are sweeter than the outer, darker green leaves. The flavor is brighter and more pronounced when raw, and more mellow when cooked.

What is the flavor profile of escarole? ›

Flavor-wise, escarole is part of the chicory family, which means it's related to stuff like endive, radicchio, and other bitter greens. And yes, as the family name “bitter greens” suggests, escarole is a tad bitter.

Does escarole taste like spinach? ›

Escarole tastes bitter compared to spinach. Escarole is commonly used in Italian cuisines and when you grill or sauté it, it tastes better. Escarole provides a variety of minerals and vitamins, including vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and fiber.

What herb is similar to escarole? ›

Herbs like dandelion greens, parsley, or cilantro can be used as substitutes for escarole. While they may not have the exact same taste profile, they can provide a fresh and vibrant element to your dishes. Dandelion greens, for example, have a slightly bitter taste that can add depth to salads or sautés.

What part of escarole do you eat? ›

Escarole's dark green outer leaves are tough, with a pronounced bitterness that's a great addition to soups, stews, sautés, or wilted into pasta. The inner leaves of escarole are mild, with a tender, palatable texture—good for adding into mixed green salads or sandwiches.

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