How to Blanch Bitter Greens for Italian Soups. Traditional Italian cooks load just as many vegetables into their soups as they do pasta or other starches. Bitter greens, such as escarole, chicory and broccoli rabe, remain high on the list of favorite vegetables for Italian soups. Blanching these bitter greens before adding them to soup not only prevents discoloring the soup, but also purges the greens of some of their bitter aftertaste.
Remove tough outer stalks from broccoli rabe. Chop off core of escarole and chicory. Cut bitter greens into ribbon-sized pieces or leave long.
Measure three cups of water for every pound of either broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, escarole or chicory you have. Place water in a deep stock pot.
Place pot on stove. Cover and turn heat to high. When water comes to a full rolling boil, remove cover and add one tablespoon kosher or sea salt for every pound of vegetables you are cooking.
Cover pot again. Wait until water returns to a second full boil. Add bitter greens all at once. Use a slotted spoon to gently push the greens down to the bottom of the pot, allowing the water to cover them completely.
Set the timer on five minutes. Then check the pot to make sure the water simmers gently. Pierce the greens with a fork to see if they are tender. Escarole and chicory cook faster than broccoli rabe, which usually requires about seven minutes of blanching.
Use the slotted spoon to remove the tender greens to a colander set over a plate. Allow some water to drain from the bitter greens before adding them to the soup.