Comforting and cozy, Chicken Pastina Soup is great for a warm meal or to fight off a cold! This easy recipe with basic ingredients is ready in under an hour and can be made in big batches to freeze for hearty bowls of soup throughout the colder months!
Why you will love this chicken pastina soup recipe
Whether you need the perfect meal to help ward off the sniffles or you’re just looking for a hot and satisfying bowl of comforting soup, this recipe is guaranteed to get the job done! It’s one of my favorite recipes when I’m feeling under the weather, even better than chicken noodle soup!
It features a rich chicken broth with a unique citrus twist, tender chicken, and lots of yummy pastina to fill you up. A few bites of this Italian comfort food dish feel like a warm hug for your stomach! Serve with some crusty Italian bread for a truly filling meal.
What is pastina?
Pastina is exactly what it sounds like—little tiny pieces of pasta! This word is sort of an umbrella term that refers to any small pasta shapes, but what you’ll commonly find is tiny little sphered or stars. Like most pasta, pastina is typically made from wheat flour and egg.
Some Italians will refer to pastina soup as Italian penicillin.
Ingredients you will need
Pastina: This soup can be made with many varieties of small pasta shapes, but I love pastina because it’s cute and cooks up nice and quickly. The Ronzoni brand pastina is even shaped like little stars!
Aromatics: Onion, garlic, and ginger add tons of bold and savory flavor to this soup.
Chicken broth: You could also use vegetable broth, but I like the extra flavor that chicken stock provides.
Shredded chicken: Use leftover chicken, buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, or bake a few chicken breasts.
Seasonings: A simple combination of salt, pepper, and turmeric give your soup a nice baseline of flavor.
Lemon and orange: Using two different kinds of citrus juice adds a tangy twist. If I’m feeling under the weather, I’ll add extra orange juice for a boost of Vitamin C.
Fresh Parsley: Fresh chopped parsley is perfect as a garnish!
You can also garnish with parmesan cheese, and for even more flavor you can throw a parmesan rind into the soup while it simmers.
How to make pastina soup
- Cook the pastina. Using the directions on the package, cook the pastina and set it aside.
- Cook aromatics. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, then add onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until fragrant and softened.
- Add broth. Pour in the chicken broth and shredded chicken, then bring the soup to a boil. Stir in salt, pepper, turmeric, orange juice, lemon juice, and parsley.
- Simmer and serve. Allow the soup to simmer for about 5 minutes, then use a ladle to portion it out over top of the cooked pastina.
How to store pastina chicken soup
Allow the soup to cool, then transfer to some kind of airtight container or a bowl with a lid. Keep your soup in the fridge for up to a week. It’ll probably be best in the first 3-4 days.
If you are planning to have leftovers, you may want to consider storing the broth and pastina separately so the pastina doesn’t absorb all the broth. I have frozen it all together several times and just added a splash of water or broth when reheating.
Leftover soup can also be kept in the freezer for 3 to 4 months. Just be aware that the freezing process may create ice crystals in the soup, which will dilute the flavor a bit when they melt.
How to reheat chicken pastina soup
For an easy and quick method, spoon some soup into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for about a minute. Then give the soup a good stir and continue to microwave in 30 seconds increments until it reaches the desired heat.
To reheat an entire batch of chicken pastina soup, just transfer it back to a large pot and heat it on the stovetop, stirring occasionally.
If you’re unable to find pastina pasta in grocery stores, other options that work are orzo, ditalini, or acini de pepe. You could also make this soup using rice for a similar result. Another fun option, especially for kids, is alphabet pasta!
What’s the difference between orzo and pastina?
Though both small types of pasta, orzo tends to be longer and more oblong, while pastina is either circular or star-shaped. Orzo is commonly used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking, whereas pastina is more likely to be found in an Italian dish.
Recipe tips and variations
- When I’m making chicken soup for a cold, I like to add extra lemon, turmeric, ginger, orange juice, and garlic for some extra nutrients and ingredients in the rich broth that help clear my sinuses.
- To make chicken soup ahead of time: Store the shredded chicken separately from the soup in the refrigerator. Don’t cook the pastina until just before you’re ready to serve the soup. If I’m making this soup when I’m sick, I’ll toss the pastina in a little bit of olive oil and store it separately so I don’t have to make it fresh every time I want a bowl.
- For more flavor, use fresh herbs or other spices. Paprika, Italian seasoning, onion powder, bay leaf, garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, and thyme are all tasty options.
- Make this soup vegetarian or vegan by omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth. Some pastina varieties may contain egg, so be sure to check the ingredients to ensure that the kind you’re using is vegan-friendly.
- Add other vegetables like celery, carrots, peas, green beans, or greens like spinach or kale.
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Chicken Pastina Soup
- Cook the pastina according to package instructions, then drain and set aside. You can toss it in a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking if needed.
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
- Pour in the chicken bone broth and mix in the shredded chicken. Bring the broth to a boil. Once boiling, mix in the salt, pepper, turmeric, lemon juice, orange juice, and parsley. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- To serve, divide the pastina between bowls and ladle the broth into the bowls.