This soup takes a few days to prepare, but worth every bit of love and time you put into it. I am a pure bred Italian and got this recipe from my Mom and Aunt who are also pure bred Italian.
With the 2 pounds of escarole (not endive); cut out core; wash, pat dry. Put in plastic bags (large bread bags work - each bag holds about a pound.) Squeeze out air; freeze. *Day 2, when ready to add to the soup, pound the frozen escarole (still in the bag) with the heel of your hand breaking escarole into bite-sized pieces. Dump into pot. Rinse the plastic bags with warm water to get most of the escarole pieces from the sides and dump the water into the pot. Discard the plastic bags - no mess. You are going to have a ton of utensils and pots to wash and take care of so this will save you some time.
Throw everything into a LARGE pot - NOT THE ESCAROLE OR MEATBALLS (later for that). Cook chicken until falling off the bone with chicken broth, water, and veggies. Place colander over another large pot to catch all the soup; drain chicken. Put drained chicken in large bowl, cover; and refrigerate. Drain remaining soup through the colander; discard all those veggies. They have done their job. Refrigerate strained broth.
Relax, you are done for the first day. Clean up the kitchen!
Skim the grease off the cooled broth, return broth to REALLY LARGE pot; heat to simmer. While the soup is heating, skin, de-bone chicken and remove all that ugly stuff from your wonderful boiled chicken. Cut into pieces and dump into the broth. *Now, it's time for the escarole. Dump the frozen smashed escarole into hot broth. When the escarole has cooked down, (trust me, it will) slowly dump in the meatballs being careful not to splash the hot broth. Buy good store-bought ones. If you make your own, you will need an extra day. I tried it once and it is quite a job. You need 100 to 125 small frozen Italian meatballs, depends on your preference (and the size of your pot - better be LARGE). The meatballs are usually precooked so you only have to heat thoroughly. (Meatballs will swell as they cook; absorbing all that great broth, you will be glad you have a LARGE pot). Adjust spices. Serve with fresh, warm Italian bread to absorb all that wonderful soup and a simple salad. ENJOY!
This leftover soup freezes well. Put leftover soup in plastic containers for gifts for a sick relative or friend. Everyone loves it. Not just another chicken and noodle soup! Even my grandchildren love it and eat every drop in their bowls including the greens. The escarole is masked by the great chicken flavor and they don’t even know it’s good for them. If you have never tried escarole, do it now. It is not bitter. Try it, you’ll like it. And meatballs - what kid doesn’t like meatballs?! - or adults for that matter.