I love this soup because it so flavorful, makes a big batch for leftovers and you have leftover chicken for another meal too! I have even frozen this soup for an emergency meal. Don’t let the ingredient list scare you it is very easy to make. I make my own chicken broth for this soup, for several reasons. First off the broth is easy to make and much more flavorful than the purchased kind. Second I can use the chicken meat for a meal the next day. Try some of these recipes or create your own – Asian Chicken Taquitos, Tostadas de Pollo, Flautas de Pollo, Spinach Salad using Leftover Chicken or Chicken Salad with a Poppy Seed Dressing. Acini de pepe is an Italian pasta that is a small round shape as shown in the soup that can easily be found in most grocery stores in the pasta section.
1 whole chicken about 4-5 lbs. cleaned and anything inside removed
1 medium onion sliced, about 1 cup
4 -5 large carrots, peeled and chopped, about 1 1/2 – 2 cups
3 celery sticks chopped, about 1 cup
8 – 10 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
10 cups of water
1/2 pound of 90% lean ground beef
1/2 lb. of ground sausage (mild or hot – your choice)
1 slice of bread torn into small pieces
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves crushed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 of a 1 lb. box/container of acini de pepe if you can’t find this type of pasta use a very small shaped pasta
2 bunches of escarole, rinsed, drained and chopped using the Chiffonade technique if
you can’t find escarole use spinach instead
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Place all of broth ingredients into a very large pot and fill pot with water. Place on burner over medium high heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours or until chicken easily falls off the bone. While soup is simmering rinse, drain, remove core and slice escarole into one inch widths and set aside. The last half hour that the soup is simmering make the meatballs. In a large bowl, whisk egg with a tablespoon of water, and add remaining ingredients except for beef and sausage and combine well. Add beef and sausage and combine evenly using your hands. Roll into little balls and set aside. Once chicken is done, remove chicken and refrigerate for another use. Strain remaining ingredients, remove carrots from strainer and add back to broth. Discard the remaining ingredients. Add broth and carrots back into the large pot and over medium high heat bring to a gentle boil. Drop meatballs into simmering broth, add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Add escarole and cook for about 2 minutes or until slightly wilted. Ladle into bowls and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
If you want a slightly different take, add part of the chicken to the soup and use less meatballs for a mix of meat. Sometimes some chicken remains in the soup and it just adds extra flavor!
Try Farnese Sangiovese (Italy), Cantina Zaccagnini il vino “dal tralcetto” Montepuliciano d’Abruzzo Dry Red Wine (Italy), Masi Modello Delle Venezie (Italy) or Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir (California).