My paternal grandmother is pure Italian. When we would visit her for Thanksgiving she would always serve this soup with dinner. I remember always looking forward to it, and if she didn't have it I would be disappointed.
When my mom and I finally learned how to make it, Progresso used to make an escarole soup and that was the only way we knew how to make the soup (well, the basis for it anyway). Then one day I could never find the canned escarole soup so I was at a loss for what to do and so we went a few years without this fabulous soup (because we stopped visiting this grandma because she wasn't exactly local anymore) until, one day I got up the guts to face the fact that escarole is a fresh leafy green available in my grocery store and that it wasn't gross to boil what, to me, was "lettuce." So I gave it a shot and it turned out fabulous so all was right in the world again. And so I shall share the basis of this recipe with you
about 1 pound of ground beef, seasoned as meatballs to your liking (I season mine with garlic, italian bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, mixed with 1 egg)
2 chicken breasts (or you can use canned chicken)
1 head of escarole, chopped and rinsed
1 large can of chicken broth plus a carton of chicken broth
chopped celery and carrots
1 small onion, minced
salt/pepper to taste
about 1 cup orzo pasta
1. In stockpot add broth, escarole, celery, carrots and onion. Set pot to simmer.
2. Begin forming meatball mix into tiny meatballs, dropping in the pot as you form them.
3. Once soup is simmering, season with salt/pepper and add chicken breasts.
4. Cover and simmer on low for several hours.
5. When meatballs are cooked through, boil water separately and cook orzo pasta according to package directions (approx. 9 minutes).
6. Drain and rinse orzo and add to soup.
(Note: the broth is not an exact science. Add more water/chicken broth to your liking. And keep an eye on it while the soup is simmering to make sure it doesn't evaporate.)
Enjoy with a sprinkling of cheese, and some buttered crusty bread!