Sunday, December 2, 2012

Turkey and Escarole Soup with Couscous

My grocery store had Escarole Friday. I was so excited! Any time I had looked for Escarole in the past I could not find it. You see, I have never tried it. I have seen it in a soup recipe or two but never had the opportunity to buy it. I bought two heads and decided I would figure out what to cook later.

I love Italian sausage and dark greens. So I decided I would make turkey Italian sausage with an Italian sausage seasoning blend I have used before. It is sweet with fennel and a little spicy from the cayenne. I looked through a few of my cooking magazines and found a recipe for Couscous Meatball Soup in this month’s Healthy Cooking magazine. I used it for inspiration, substituting my Italian sausage meatballs for their beef meatballs. I used escarole where they used kale and collards. I added a little carrot for color and sweetness. It is really good. I like Escarole, it tastes like a very mild, young cabbage or bok choy. Delicious! I will cook with it again. The soup looks a lot like Italian Wedding Soup. So I decided to check Wikipedia for the definition. What I found was really funny, at least to me. Turns out I inadvertently made wedding soup during the Christmas season because I love Italian sausage and dark greens. This is exactly what Wikipedia says is the origin for the soup.

            The term "wedding soup" is a mistranslation of the Italian language phrase "minestra maritata ("married soup")," which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meats go well together. The minestra maritata recipe is also prepared by the families of Lazio and Campania during the Christmas season.

I will definitely make this soup again. The only thing I will experiment with next time is reducing the amount of couscous to a cup. The couscous continues to thicken the soup and absorbs a lot of the broth. I think if I start with less I may have more broth in the end. Also the parmesan is really not needed. I didn’t miss it one bit when I tried it without parmesan.

Turkey and Escarole Soup with Couscous
8 Servings


1-1/4 lbs lean ground turkey (93% lean)
1/2 recipe Italian Sausage Seasoning (recipe follows)
3 Tbsp plain bread crumbs
2 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 heads escarole, cut into 1“ribbons
2 cartons (32 oz each) low sodium, fat free chicken stock
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
1-1/2 cups Israeli couscous
Parmesan cheese (optional)


In a small bowl, combine the turkey, seasoning, bread crumbs and 3 Tbsp chicken stock. Shape into 1-in. balls, approximately 30 meatballs. In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil, brown meatballs. Remove meatballs and set aside.

In the same Dutch oven, brown onion and carrot until onion is translucent. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add escarole; cook until it begins to wilt.

Add meatballs and remaining stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste broth for seasoning; adjust to taste adding salt, black and red pepper. Return to a boil. Stir in couscous. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until couscous is tender, stirring occasionally. Taste once more for seasoning. Serve in large soup bowls garnished with parmesan cheese.

Yield: 8 servings (4 quarts).

Italian Sausage Seasoning


2 Tbsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. onion powder
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. black pepper


In the bowl of a mortar and pestle, crush fennel seeds and combine with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt, cayenne, and black pepper. Mix well to blend spices.

Yield: Enough to season 2-1/2 pounds of ground turkey, pork, or burger blend (1-1/2 lb pork, 1 lb beef).

Linking to:
See Ya in the Gumbo
Carole's Chatter - Food on Friday's


  1. Thanks for linking in to Food on Friday: Christmas. We are now getting a great collection of Christmas ideas.

    Ps If you would like email reminders of future Food on Fridays, just pop by and comment and include your email - I won't publish it - and the reminder will be by bcc so it will remain private

    1. Thanks! Carole, There were some great Christmas treats posted. Thanks for the reminder too.

  2. I never knew that about wedding soup--interesting! This looks like a nice hearty soup and we are big cous cous eaters. Although I've never had escarole! Thanks for linking up. Sorry I'm running behind in my blog reading!

    1. Thanks, Michelle. I like escarole. I will be looking for more recipes to try with this ingredient.


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