Easy Italian Pastina Soup is made with homemade chicken broth and tiny pasta stars. Just one bite of this cozy soup that warms the soul will bring you right back to nonna’s kitchen. A rich chicken broth made with carrots, onions, and celery. This comforting soup is ready in an hour.
This pastina soup recipe is straight from my childhood. Nonna would make this soup all winter long or whenever anyone was under the weather. If you grew up in Italian-American home, you are probably being taken back to your childhood. Nonna made this for my kids and their favorite part was my favorite part from my childhood: formaggino melted right in it.
This chicken soup is gluten-free, paleo, and keto friendly (without the pastina). If you happen to find a tiny gluten-free pasta, add that in the soup (for gluten-free).
Formaggino is a soft cheese (they have the Laughing Cow brand in the States)or even cream cheese was melted in it. So you had this creamy and dreamy homemade chicken broth with the melted soft cheese, and tiny little star pasta and soft bites of carrots. What kid could resist it?
What is Italian pastina soup AKA pastina in brodo?
Pastina in brodo in Italian translates literally to tiny pasta in broth (usually, a chicken broth). Pastina soup is a soup made with a comforting broth full of chicken, onions, carrots, celery and fresh herbs. I like to use fresh dill and fresh Italian parsley. This soup recipe is made with chicken wings, so it cooks up pretty fast. The actual pastina is the the stelline (the little start pasta) that gets cooked up with the soup (or aside from the soup).
If you grew up in an Italian American house, you maybe pronounced it “pasteen”. And that just referred to chicken soup with tiny pasta.
The best thing about chicken pastina soup is that it can be put together in no time. You probably have some sort of small or tiny pasta in your pantry and some chicken broth in your freezer (or store-bought in your pantry).
What types of pasta can I substitute the pastina with?
Any tiny pasta could be used in place of the actual pastina (AKA stelline tiny star pasta). You can use acini di peppe, alphabet pasta (the kids love that!), orzo or the anellini.
Could I make pastina with store-bought chicken broth?
Yes! But I suggest finding the most natural and better quality broth. Low sodium and without any thing added is best.
Can I make vegan pastina soup?
Yes! Make a homemade vegetable broth (or use a nice store-bought one).
Can I spice up Italian pastina soup?
Yes! If you are not cooking this for the kids, go ahead and spice it up with your favorite hot pepper or hot pepper flakes.
What kind of chicken is used to make pastina soup?
So for this recipe, I used what I had on hand, and it was chicken wings. As soon as the temperature cools down, I am making this chicken soup once a week. I used up all the broth I had on hand so I had to make something fast and the chicken wings worked perfectly.
If you use rotisserie chicken, an option is to use store bought chicken broth or you could make a broth with a good quality bouillon. Once the broth is cooked up with the vegetables, add the chicken shredded up at the end. If you bought a seasoned chicken, be sure to check the seasoning and not over salt the broth.
Basically, any parts of chicken will work. You could use a whole chicken, chicken legs, or even chicken breasts. Rotisserie chicken can also work. But it’s really easy to make this broth with the wings and cooks up so fast.
Can you make this soup ahead of time?
You can make the broth even a couple days ahead of time. Or even earlier in the day, put the broth together. When you’re ready to serve, the pastina cooks up in just minutes (less than 10 minutes). Heat up the soup and add in the pastina. You could serve the soup with or without chicken. My kids used to love it without the chicken and with the melted soft cheese (like I was talking about above).
Storing and Reheating
How to store and heat the soup?
- Store-Once the soup has cooled down ladle it into your storage container that is totally airtight. Stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you cooked up the pastina separate from the broth, store the broth and any leftover pastina in a separate container. If you store the pastina in the broth, it will get extremely soft and mushy.
- Reheat- Place the soup in a sauce pan and heat the soup gently on medium-low heat until hot (I don’t own a microwave, but if you do, heat the soup as you would normally).
Can you freeze chicken pastina soup?
Yes, you can freeze the soup. But be sure to freeze the broth separately from the pastina. Once the soup has completely cooled down, store it in airtight container (totally freezer safe)for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw out overnight in the fridge before you reheat. I do not recommend freezing the pasta.
Some other soup recipes to enjoy:
- Slow Cooker Whole Chicken Soup
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
- Italian Lentil Soup
- Immune Boosting Turmeric Chicken Soup
- French Onion Soup
Easy Italian Pastina Soup
- 2 to 3 quarts water (about 8 cups water, or as needed)
- 3 ½ pounds chicken wings chopped at the joints
- 1 small yellow onion peeled and left whole
- 4 medium carrots peeled and cut in half
- 4 medium celery stalks cleaned and cut in half
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- fresh parsley
- fresh dill
- 1½ cups pastina pasta
- Place chicken in large soup pot with cover (I used my 7 quart nonstick Dutch oven). Add enough water to cover the chicken (about 8 cups).
- Add in the onion, carrots, celery, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a low boil and begin to skim the fat (some foam should be floating to the top) off. Do this until most of the foam has been removed (could take 20 minutes more or less). Add in the salt and pepper (if using).
- Add in the fresh dill and parsley (if you’re using). Continue to simmer gently for about one hour.
- Taste soup and add additional salt, pepper.
- Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer into a large bowl. Reserve the carrots. Reserve the chicken (take off the bones) if you're serving the broth with chicken.
- If you’re cooking the pastina in the broth:
- Strain the broth (reserve the carrots and take the chicken off the bone, if you’ll be serving it with the pastina). Bring 6 cups of chicken broth to a boil.
- Add the pastina and reduce heat to a simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until al dente. Ladle into bowls and serve with pieces of the carrots. Add on some grated cheese if you like.
- The other option is to cook the pastina in a pot of boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until al dente. Strain the pastina and portion directly to bowls and ladle the broth on top.
- Homemade chicken broth with wings is super easy to make. If you prefer to use store bought broth, choose a low sodium and a nicer quality brand so that it will have the best flavor. You could even use rotisserie chicken, for convenience.
- Pastina cooked in the soup will continue to soak up the broth when it is stored in the refrigerator. The pastina will be mushy the next day. If you cook extra pastina, store it separately from the broth.
- You could use whatever small shape you happen to have on hand. But the kids love the tiny stars! Look for tiny shapes made for soups and stews.
- You can store chicken broth or stock in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze for 2-3 months.