- 1 stewing hen or chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
- 1 pound veal or beef shank
- 1 pound country-style pork ribs
- 2 celery ribs, including the leafy tops, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 to 2 small dried red chiles
- About 6 quarts cold water
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 pounds fresh greens, cored and stemmed as necessary, including any or all of the following: escarole, chicory, dandelion and broccoli rabe
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- In a very large stockpot, combine the hen, veal shank, pork ribs, celery, carrots, garlic and dried chiles. Add enough of the water to just cover the meats and bring to a simmer over moderately low heat. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper and reduce the heat to low. Cover partially and cook until the broth is very flavorful, about 3 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fresh greens in 2 or 3 batches until just tender, 5 to 8 minutes; if you are using a combination of greens, cook each variety separately. Drain the greens and when they're cool enough to handle, squeeze them dry. Coarsely chop the greens.
- When the broth is done, remove the hen, veal shank and pork ribs. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Remove all the meat from the hen, veal shank and pork ribs and cut into bit-size pieces.
- Skim the fat from the surface of the broth and pour it into a clean stockpot, stopping when you reach the solids at the bottom. Add the meats and greens to the broth and bring just to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and serve piping hot in rimmed soup plates. Pass the cheese at the table.
The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Serve an Italian sparkling wineperhaps a nonvintage Zardetto Proseccoor a fruity, dry regional white, such as Regaleali Nozze d'Oro, to offset the bitter greens.