Italian bread soup with escarole

Total Time
28 min
10 min
18 min
This hearty bean soup gets richness and depth from the pancetta, a flavorful Italian bacon in a sausage-like shape. It makes this soup taste like it has simmered for hours instead of just a matter of minutes. The Parmesan cheese-topped bread slices are the finishing touch, soaking up the soup and letting you easily break it into spoon-size pieces. To save even more time, you can use a 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, in place of the fresh escarole, and broil the soup right in the Dutch oven. Just remember to cover non-flameproof handles with heavy-duty foil to prevent them from scorching.



1 oz, chopped

Uncooked onion(s)

1 medium, chopped


3 medium clove(s), minced

Reduced-sodium chicken broth

4 cup(s), or vegetable broth

Plum tomato(es)

14 oz, canned italian plum tomatoes


5 cup(s), 1 bunch, chopped

Fresh oregano

1½ Tbsp, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Canned cannellini beans

30 oz, (white kidney) rinsed and drained

Italian bread

4 oz, cut into 8 slices

Shredded parmesan cheese



  1. Spray a nonstick Dutch oven with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, 2–3 minutes; transfer to a plate.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the same Dutch oven. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 7–10 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, escarole, oregano, and pepper; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the escarole is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans and cook until the soup is hot, 2–3 minutes.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Transfer the soup to a large ovenproof casserole dish. Arrange the bread slices on top of the soup; sprinkle with the cheese. Broil until the cheese and bread are lightly browned, 1–2 minutes. Sprinkle with the pancetta just before serving.