1 3- to 3½-lb. whole chicken broiler/fryer
3 stalks celery
3 medium carrots
2 small onions
1 head escarole
1 cup Acine de Pepe pasta
1 tsp./cube chicken bouillon
½ lb. meatloaf mix (ground pork, beef, and veal)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg
salt and pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 T. grated Romano cheese, plus extra to garnish
Prepare the Chicken and Broth:
I follow the Betty Crocker Cookbook ©1969 recipe for “Chicken and Broth.” Betty tells us to put the chicken in a Dutch oven, cover with 4½ cups of water, add cut-up veggies (1 onion, 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot ― all unpeeled, for added flavor), sprinkle with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, skim the foam, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes. I usually let it go a little longer. Cool about 10 minutes, drain the veggies out of the broth, discard the veggies, and keep the broth. Remove chicken meat from bone, then cut up the meat. Yield will be approximately 3 cups cut-up chicken and 3 cups broth.
I like to do this the day before I make the soup and put it in the fridge overnight. The next day I can then skim any fat from the top of the broth and proceed.
Prepare the Other Ingredients:
Cook 1 cup of Acine de Pepe to “al dente” according to package directions (usually boils for 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.
Cut 2 stalks of celery, 2 medium carrots, and 1 small onion into bite-size pieces.
Clean one head of escarole and cook in a little water until wilted. Cool, squeeze out excess water, and cut up.
Begin preparing the meatballs by mixing together: meatloaf mix, bread crumbs, egg, ½ tsp. each of salt and pepper, dried parsley, garlic powder, and 1 T. grated cheese.
Add enough water to the broth to measure 5 cups. Heat broth, celery, onion, carrots, and chicken bouillon to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir in cut-up chicken. Set back to boiling, add raw meatballs (¼ tsp. per meatball), and simmer another 10 minutes.
Add in cut-up escarole and cooked Acine de Pepe. If soup is too thick, add two or three cans of chicken broth to thin out. Serve immediately, sprinkled with a little grated Romano cheese.