Friday, December 5, 2014

“Escarole Soup” Recipe For Advent & The Feast Of Saint Nicholas

As I began to write this post, my eyes glanced at the calendar, and as I looked closer, I see that it is December 6th on Saturday! As I get older, I learn that each year, the days, and months get shorter. With that being said, the beginning of December means that Advent is upon us. Advent is a countdown to Christmas. It seems to be a magical time as I start to decorate my house for this joyous season. Every day another room gets transformed into what my family calls “Dottie’s Christmas Village.” I have many candles and lots of beautiful angels plus you cannot forget the tree, with jolly old St. Nick under its branches. My Nativity takes a special place on my mantle surrounded by golden angels and branches of pines trees that fills the room with the scent of outdoors.

My Tree
As I unpack all of the decorations and ornaments for the tree, I seem to travel back in time. I am reminded of all my treasured keepsakes and who gave them to me throughout the years. One of the first items I always take out first is my Advent calendar, and place it in a spot that all could see. During the Advent season, Christians all over the world start to prepare for the birth of Jesus. In celebration of His birth, there are many preparations, such as decorating your house, your tree, wrapping gifts, cards to write, meals to plan cook and plan, plus baking cookies, gingerbread houses, and lastly who will be attending Midnight Mass.

Advent is a tradition in my home, when my son was young. My grandmother (Nanni) started giving him an advent calendar every year, so he could understand how many days were left till Christmas Day. Every day my son looked forward to opening another door and see what was behind it. Sometimes a short poem, a Christmas word, a chocolate kiss, or something that pertained to the birth of Jesus. After my Nanni passed on, I continued the tradition for my son as well as my nieces and nephews.

Vintage Advent Calendar
Advent wreaths are different, they have a liturgical meaning. They are usually an evergreen wreath with four candles and often, a fifth, white candle in the center. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading, devotional time, and prayers. An additional candle is lit during each week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. Many Advent wreaths include a fifth, Christ candle which is lit at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The custom is observed both in family settings and at public church services. The circle of the wreath means, God’s eternity, no beginning or end. The green of the wreath means the hope that we have in God. The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through His birth. (Peace, Love, Hope, and Joy)

Advent Wreath
The beginning of December is not only for Advent but also on December 6th, tomorrow we celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas! Whether you call him, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, St. Nick, or any other names that are used for him, Santa is still the hero of millions of children in the whole world. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving. Legend states that one of the old Christian traditions surrounding St. Nicholas’ feast day is for kids to leave their shoes out overnight in front of the fireplace, on the windowsill, or outside their bedroom door so that St. Nicholas can fill their shoes with special fruits, candies, and other small gifts and treats. 
Saint Nicholas

Another cute part of this tradition is for children to leave carrots or hay in their shoes for St. Nicholas’ donkey to eat. St. Nicholas takes the hay and carrots for his donkey and replaces them with small gifts and treats for the children. That is how he became the model for our modern day Santa Claus, which also comes from the Dutch name called Sinterklaas. St. Nicholas (San Nicola) is the patron saint of Bari, in Italy, where his relics are buried in the Basilica di San Nicola (Basilica of St. Nicholas). Therefore, I hope that your shoes have many goodies from St. Nicholas!

Filled Shoes with Goodies
My recipe this week is “Escarole Soup.” This recipe is a traditional dish that my mom made to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, on December 6th. Its origin is Italian and you can add white kidney beans and/or Tortellini to the soup. I also posted this recipe on “Cooking With Nonna.” If you log on to “Cooking With Nonna,” Rossella Rago who hosts the site has this recipe listed under Soups and shares my recipe with all of her readers and followers. Thank you Rossella.. (click on “Cooking With Nonna” it will bring you to the recipe)

“Escarole Soup


"Escarole Soup"
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound of escarole, chopped and washed
A pinch of salt
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
Freshly ground pepper
Grated Pecorino-Romano cheese


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the escarole and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt. Add the chicken broth, cover and simmer about 5 minutes. You can add a can of white kidney beans (washed and rinsed to get the salt off) plus/or cooked Tortellini. Serve with crusty Italian bread and top with grated Pecorino-Romano cheese.

Till Next Time……

Copyright © 2014 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Hi Dottie!
    I grew up with St. Lucy who will come on the night of the12th and you will find presents in your shoes on the 13th morning. It depends on the region in Italy. Some children get presents from St Nicolo' and some from St. Lucy. Similar concept though! :-)
    In Germany they celebrate St Nicholaus and I know in Slovenia too as my sister is married to a Slovenian man. It is such a lovely thing for children and they get special cookies on that day too.
    I am slowly preparing for Christmas too. I freeze some food as I find it difficult to cope with so much cooking during the festivities!
    I love your soup, really delicious. Have a fab weekend!!

    1. Hi Alida,
      I know I grew up with St Lucy as well. All the Saints. Saint Lucy is special to our family as my grandmother prayed to her all the time. Her feast day is next week. Like you said it is really from the region where you can from. So many variations but fun however you celebrate. I know the little children love this tradition. You have a great idea preparing some food and freezing some for the holiday. It takes the pressure off of you and you can enjoy the day.Thanks for your visit and your comment...Have a delicious weekend too!
      Dottie :)

  2. Hi Dottie ,
    What a wonderful post and a great reminder that Advent and the Feast of Saint Nicholas is upon up .
    I began decorating the house the first of December , it's such a joy to see the rooms come alive with different decorations .
    What a lovely and easy soup , you can whip it up in a flash .
    Thanks so much for sharing and do so hope you are feeling better and getting stronger . Blessing ....~~Nee~~ ;-D

    1. Good evening Nee,
      Thanks dear friend, for your visit and for your wonderful comment. I did as well Nee, decorating is a lot of work. Like you, I started out earlier and it is so nice to see the decorations up. Especially the things that have the aroma of pine. I love pulling the items from the box and say Ohh, I remember that ornament, etc. This soup is perfect for a day like today, after you put up decorations a nice bowl of hot soup just hits the spot. Yes, you can make this soup fast, and it is easy as well. Hope that you enjoy! Thanks for your concern about me, I am trying to get just takes longer."One Day At A Time" Blessing to you and have a wonderful weekend.
      Dottie :)

  3. Hi Dottie,
    You just reminded me, I really need to dig out my post for all the Saints of December. It was rather good if I do say so myself. It included St. Lucy, St. Barbara, St. Thomas, St. Stephen and of course St. Nicholas. (I think there may have been more too, lol) Thanks for the reminder Dottie. I'll have to brush it up and repost:)

    As for those decorations of yours, so festive. I miss when my husband and I use to make Advent calendars for the kids when they were small. We always spent the night after Thanksgiving collecting pictures from old magazines and decorating the Advent tree we cut from oak tag. Oh the memories. The kids LOVED it! Aren't traditions wonderful Dottie:)

    LOVE that soup too. Funny thing, for the longest time, the only way I knew to say this soup was in Italian. When someone asked me about Escarol Soup I had no idea what they were talking about but if they said scadole (I'm sure I'm not spellling it right:) I knew in a flash. Yes, that's how often we had it for dinner, lol...

    Thanks for sharing, Dottie...A Blessed Advent to you and yours...

    1. Good evening Louise,
      Thanks for visiting and for your comment. I agree Louise, there are so many feast days for the Saints this month. It is a busy month for the religious part of this season. Yes, I love to decorate especially at Christmas. I can understand how memories of your husband and family come to mind this time of year. It is so nice to travel down memory lane, but bittersweet at the same time. Your traditions of the Advent Tree sounded like loads of fun and lots of laughter. You are correct dear friend, Traditions are wonderful! That seems what we base our lives on. Oh, I remember my mom always calling this delicious and nutritious soup "Scadole", you spelled it correct. She hasn't called it that name in ages. Either way you call it, it is sooo goood! Thanks Louise, you also have a blessed and peaceful Advent.Say hello to Marion for me.
      Dottie :)

    2. Marion says Hi back Dottie. Your blog was her chpoice for reading this evening before she went to bed. She tries to read at least one a wekk. She is quite the woman, lol...I can't believe I spelled it right. I just called my sister to remind her of the days of Scadole soup!!! Have a wonderful evening:)

    3. Louise, Please tell Marion thank you for me. That is so nice that she is reading the blogs one at a time. She must be quite a woman, she seems to be right on the ball for her age. God Bless her. Yes, you did spell it correctly, I looked it up on Google before I wrote back to your original post. I am sure you had lots of laughs when you called your sister about the Scadole...Thanks for letting me are so sweet. You as well, have a good night...Dottie :)

  4. Yes, the months do start getting shorter! Interesting post. My sons always had Advent calendars when growing up, a great way to count the days and learn the meaning of Advent. Your soup looks and sounds delicious. Thanks for the recipe and have a great weekend!

    1. Hi Pam,
      Thank you for your visit and your comment. The Advent calendar is a beautiful tradition. So glad that you and your sons followed that tradition years ago. Glad that you liked the soup, you really have to try it, it is a perfect soup for a cold and rainy day! Have a wonderful weekend as well, my friend!
      Dottie :)

  5. Dear Dottie, I hope you are feeling good.
    The days, weeks, months and yes years are going so quickly!
    I feel like it was just summer.
    The advent calendar was always a part of growing up. I loved them.
    The houses look so pretty this time of year. It is a wonderful time of joy and memories.
    The soup is a staple; delicious and healthy too.
    xoxo Catherine

    1. Dear Catherine, Thank you for your visit and your lovely comment. Yes, i agree, it was just summer and we were blogging about salads and refreshing things to drink, now we have to blog about soups and food that stick to your ribs for these cold nasty days. Even though my son is 39 and lives upstate NY, I still use the advent calendar today, opening every door as we count down the days. Everyone is decorating the outside of the houses and you are right, they are so pretty with all the lights and ornaments. Memories is what is the best part of this season. So happy that you enjoyed this post. You are so kind to ask how I am feeling. It has been a rough November, with the Lupus flare and the MS is kicking in again. But I am tough and still have the strength to post my blog. Thank you for your concern. Have a blessed rest of the week...Dottie :)