Italian Escarole and Beans

Friday, December 27, 2019
Greens and Beans is a delicious leafy Escarole part of the chicory family with white beans and can be made in a thick stoup or a light broth-like soup.

An Italian dish made often during the depression days.

Grandma called it depression food, inexpensive, and fed many family members! Sometimes she fed the whole block, no kidding!

Inexpensive and absolutely delicious. Today it's considered a delicacy in most restaurants even in my hometown, Utica, New York where you will still find this on many a menu!

They are famous for the best Italian foods there.

Utica is famous for Greens and BeansTomato Pie, Italian Greens, Italian Lemon Ice, Pizza Fritta, Chicken Riggies, Manny's Cheesecake, Oscugnizzo Pizza, Pusties and Rosato Chocolate Cookies.

The thickness of this old fashioned classic meal is more than just comfort food to me, it's a memory of the perfect Italian traditional food for your soul and Grandma lives on when I make this.

Scroll down to make this recipe and see why we just love making this often in Grandma's memory.

this is how to make Italian Escarole & Beans is a thick stew like soup that is over Italian day old bread. Also called greens and beans. Also called Scahdal and Beans

this is escarole and beans over sesame seed hard crusted Italian bread

What Kind Of Food Is This?

Escarole "green and beans" are like a rich bean stew and poured over Italian bread.

You can eat this plain as it is also, but we grew up serving this meal over stale bread.

Grandma was from Rome, Italy, and grew up poor and considered this peasant food.

Not only did it feed a large family it was made often during times that Catholics fasted during Lent.

italian greens and beans recipe using escarole and cannelini beans

How Italian Say This

Pronounced (Scadahl and Beans) Escarole and Beans, ( Zuppa Di Scarola E Fagioli )

Greens and Beans poured over bread to sop up the oil and garlic soaked up the bread with delicious

garlic flavors and this became an Italian Specialty for centuries now!

escarole and bean soup with chicken broth

Different Consistencies

This could b thick, or like soup. Just beans, over bread, or both.

Grandma was from Rome, Italy and made thick style escarole greens and beans over crusty Italian bread, just omitting the broth became more like a stew.

Mom came from Bari, made this like a soup rich with chicken broth and my Dad's mom came from Rome and they liked this plain garlic-seasoned.

Whether you like a stew or soup consistency just depends on how much broth you add.

this is a thick escarole and beans in a big pot

They Called This Delicacy Depression Food

I very seldom eat a meal without dipping bread into the soup, or stew-like consistency.

It sure does fill you up to make it a whole meal without meat!

The best thing about beans as it's a source of protein and substitute for meat.

Not much to adapt this recipe to pretty basic, and easy to make.

Can you believe this was considered depression food back then?

It was so inexpensive to make and fed a large family.

This was a staple growing up in an all Italian Household. Escarole and beans were on the table often.

It's easy to make and the best part is its good for you.

Italian Escarole & Beans is a thick stew like soup that is over Italian day old bread. Also called greens and beans.


  • Always saute the garlic only a few minutes do not brown, just a little golden in color, burnt garlic taste awful
  • Serve this is a chunk of Italian hard-crusted bread
  • For a little heat add red pepper flakes on top
  • Grandma cannellini beans and only used dry beans she soaked them overnight.
  • I also use dried beans myself and place them in the slow cooker overnight until cooked with salt and any white beans work fine.
  • Pour a little fresh olive oil over the top when you serve this over the bread

Italian Escarole & Beans is a thick stew like soup that is over Italian day old bread. Also called greens and beans.

Old Photos

I decided to leave some of the older photos from 2010 so you can see the difference between a soup version or the real thick version (which I prefer).

They are both delicious but you can choose the kind your mom and grandma made, both version are here for you to try.

Italian Escarole & Beans is a thick stew like soup that is over Italian day old bread. Also called greens and beans.

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this is a collage of escarole and beans a thick stew like greens and beans recipe

Other Suggestions

  • Use only fresh garlic to sautee
  • Always have freshly grated cheese on hand
  • Boil the Escarole to make sure the dirt and bugs are no longer lurking in the leaves (this also removes pesticides)
  • Let the bread be at least one day old
  • Substitute the Escarole if you can't find any with another chicory leafy vegetable like endive
  • You can freeze this if you make way too much in freezer containers

Pin this one for later!

Escarole and Beans

If you can't find escarole in your part of the world you can substitute radicchio, spinach, or arugula. Other members of the chicory family can be substituted, such as curly endive. You may also consider mustard greens

Escarole is one of my favorite greens in many great recipes and one favorite of ours is Traditional Wedding Soup and it's wonderful flavors.

I love all kinds of white beans, canned or freshly made, just give this a try but always use fresh garlic!

This meal is full of proteins with the beans and rich in iron with greens.

You can also use as much garlic as you like, it's good for you too!

Great comfort food in the wintertime for sure!

Italian Escarole and Beans

Italian Escarole and Beans

Yield: 16
Prep time: 15 MCook time: 45 MTotal time: 60 M
Italian escarole and beans are a delicious inexpensive staple in the depression days and were eaten often in Italy and considered peasant food. The meal is economical and easy to make using simple greens and cooked beans then poured over stale bread, A healthy meal many grew up on in the 1940s era and still to date for many Italian households.


  • 1- 8 oz can of chicken broth or 1 cup freshly homemade chicken broth if it drys out you can also use water however the broth makes a tastier soup/stew
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (first cold-pressed) more to drizzle on top when serving
  • 2 large heads escarole
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each oregano, basil, parsley, we used all fresh ingredients when possible
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 lbs of fresh cannellini or cooked dried northern beans highly recommended or 2 (16 ounces) cans cannellini beans, drained
  • plenty of pecorino romano cheese
  • If using fresh beans reserve 1/2 of the bean water
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped,
  • pinch of cayenne pepper


  1. Preparation before cooking Tips:
  2. To make sure the escarole is tender and not full of dirt particles and pesticides, grandma and mom always boiled it first for at least 20 minutes, drain, rinse and set aside.
  3. For the beans: sort them and make sure you take all the little rock particles out of fresh beans, either soak overnight or you can place in a slow cooker overnight with it filled halfway with water on low. Cool before rinsing.
  4. For canned beans rinse them first.
  5. Assembling and Cooking Greens and Beans:
  6. In a medium saucepan, add the oil and garlic saute until fragrant.
  7. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat saute garlic till brown, add boiled escarole and coat with oil and fresh cloves of garlic for flavor. 
  8. Add some of the broth. 
  9. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes and other seasonings. 
  10. Stir in cooked beans, at this point.
  11. Heat thoroughly and serve over bread with grated cheese and more hot pepper flakes if you like the heat.
  12. Soup Method:
  13. For making a soup style,  add a 16 oz can of Chicken broth, you can also add boiled chicken and ditalini to make a hearty meal out of this. 
  14. Simmer until the mixture gets thicker and looks creamy. 
  15. Serve with plenty of grated cheese on top and pour over thick chunks of crusty bread and a few drizzles of olive oil.
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Italian greens and beans, escarole and beans, escarole bean soup, escarole and bean recipes, Utica greens and beans
escarole, healthy recipes, bean recipes, greens and beans recipes, Italian recipes, vintage recipes, economical meals, depression foods
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Italian Escarole & Beans is a thick stew like soup that is over Italian day old bread. Also called greens and beans.

Don't Forget to Try Our Other Favorite Recipes

15 Pasta Recipes

20 Bean Recipes

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Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2010. It was edited and re-published in 2019.