Escarole and Cannellini Bean Soup with Polenta Slices Recipe
For the soup:
For the polenta slices:
Make the polenta: In a medium pot, whisk together 5 cups of cold water and the cornmeal. Set a timer for 45 minutes. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking a few times. Once the mixture starts sputtering, reduce the heat to low. Stir every few minutes. When 5 minutes remain on the timer, mix in the salt, pepper and butter.
Grease a 9 1/2-inch square pan (or a similarly sized rectangular pan) and pour in the polenta. (The pan size doesn't have to be exact, but the bigger the pan, the thinner the slices will be.) Let the polenta set at room temperature while you prepare the soup.
Make the soup: Roughly chop the escarole and rinse well in a colander.
In a large pot, sauté the garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat until fragrant but not browned, stirring often, for about 2 minutes. Add the wet escarole and stir until all the greens wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add 4 cups of water and the salt, stir and cover the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 5 minutes more.
Add the beans, some black pepper and the red-pepper flakes. Raise the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
After the polenta has set for 30 minutes, cut it into slices for serving. If you prefer, you can toast the polenta slices. Heat a pan over medium heat, brush the polenta slices with olive oil and place in the pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip, cook the other side.
To serve, put a slice of polenta in the bottom of each bowl and ladle the soup on top. Drizzle with some olive oil and grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the soup.
Leftover polenta will keep wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
From Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook (Clarkson Potter) by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu.