Looking for a comforting, hearty, winter dish that you can pull together pretty quickly? Look no further! This simple one-pot wonder can be enjoyed as either a delicious soup or a belly-warming stew, depending on how long you reduce the broth. And leftovers—if there end up being any—are a most welcome sight and reheat easily over a low flame.

The recipe comes from a favorite old cookbook called American Brasserie by Chicago chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand. With my lifelong penchant for collecting cookbooks, my library has long since outgrown a shelf in my kitchen, and I have to be selective about which books make it to the shelf of honor and which live a quieter life on a bookshelf in the basement. American Brasserie, however, has earned a permanent spot among my favorites in the kitchen, and is at this point dog-eared, grease-spattered and separating at the binding. Now that’s the sign of a beloved cookbook!

I used to make this robust, rustic stew often—mainly for David and me when the boys were little and beans were still icky to them—although I had honestly forgotten about the dish until my sister told me she’d made it recently. It was such a great sense memory that the very day she mentioned it, I had a craving to make a big pot that very night. This time there were six eager eaters, and the gang happily devoured this savory, creamy, stick-to-your-ribs stew. As I recall, it freezes beautifully, but sadly this time there wasn’t enough left to stash away.

Give it a try one of these days, and let me know if you prefer it thinner and soupier or thicker and stewier. Either way, it’s a winner.

Escarole, Sausage & White Bean Stew

Adapted from American Brasserie, ©1997


    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 1 pound sausage, (sweet or hot Italian, or any other kind that you prefer), uncased and broken into bite-sized rustic chunks
    • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
    • Dash of cayenne pepper, or to taste
    • 1 head escarole, leaves washed, dried and chopped into 2-inch pieces
    • 3 cups cooked or canned white beans (drain and rinse if using canned)
    • 3 cups chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
    • 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
    • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and diced
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling


1. In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and cook the sausage pieces over medium-high heat until they are brown, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and cayenne pepper to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat just until the garlic softens, about 2 minutes. Add the escarole and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the beans and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a gentle boil.

4. Add the butter, cheese, tomatoes, and half of the parsley. Mix to combine and cook until the mixture is heated through and the butter is melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Simmer until the liquid has reduced to your desired consistency; you can enjoy almost immediately if you’d like soup, or continue to simmer for 30-60 minutes for a creamy stew. Keep an eye on the pot so you don’t lose too much liquid!6. Serve in heated bowls, sprinkled with the remaining parsley and drizzled with a bit of olive oil. Use a vegetable peeler to shave curls of Parmesan over each bowl. Be sure to serve with warm, crusty bread to sop up the liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

Serves 4 to 6


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