Chicken Pastina Soup is ready in less than an hour! This Italian chicken soup with little pasta shapes features shredded chicken breasts and full-bodied flavor from onions, carrots, celery and stock. It's the best comfort food!
Could you use some comfort food about now? I thought so.
I give you Chicken Pastina Soup, which is basically Italian chicken noodle soup.
It's made with pastina, which simply means "tiny pasta." We're talking about teeny, tiny pasta...the kind every Italian baby is fed before even knowing how to say, "More!"
Mom used to serve it to my kids in Nonna's Chicken Meatball Soup. And since that recipe takes several hours to make, I thought it'd be helpful to share this quicker, yet flavorful chicken soup with pastina.
Because even us adults crave pastina soup, otherwise known as Italian penicillin. It's so delicious!
I always make this soup with chicken stock and water, instead of buying broth. The chicken stock provides more full-bodied flavor.
For the pastina, I like using acini di pepe, which translates to "seeds of pepper" and looks like tiny balls of pasta. You also could use stelline, which means "little stars."
The boneless, skinless chicken breasts are there to add protein, flavor and substance and will be shredded for this soup.
How to make shredded chicken
- Heat olive oil in the pot over medium heat until sizzling. Pat the chicken breasts dry and add them to the pot with seasonings. Sear the first side for five minutes.
- Use tongs (affiliate link) to flip over the chicken and pour a cup of stock over it. Cover the pot and let the chicken simmer for seven minutes.
- Remove the chicken to a bowl, let it cool for a few minutes, and shred it.
I like this method for shredded chicken because it produces more tasty results than simply boiling the chicken.
How to make chicken pastina soup
See the recipe card at the end of this post for full instructions, but here is an overview.
- Add chopped onions and diced carrots and celery to the pot after removing the cooked chicken.
- Cook the vegetables until soft. Don't rush this part, because you don't want crunchy carrots and celery in your soup.
- Add the chicken stock and water to the pot. Cover and heat on high to bring to a boil.
- When the liquid is boiling, stir in the pastina to cook.
- When the pastina is done, stir in the shredded chicken and grated Parmesan.
The easiest way to shred chicken is to use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on a low setting. If you don't have a stand mixer, shred the chicken with two forks.
The cooked pastina will quickly absorb the broth in the pot, so serve the soup immediately. Use a slotted spoon to remove any extra pastina from the pot and place it in a separate container. This also prevents the leftover pastina from getting mushy.
You shouldn't need to add any salt beyond what was used to season the chicken. The chicken stock should be salty enough, but taste the soup when it's done, after the Parmesan has been added.
Frequently asked questions
Sure! They'll probably be thinner than the breasts, so you'd have to cook them for a little less time. Cook them just until no longer pink inside.
That should be fine. You'd start the recipe by sautéeing the vegetables in oil. You'd add the shredded chicken as called for later. Since rotisserie chicken is already salted, don't add seasoning until you taste the soup when it's done.
If you want to make the Chicken Pastina Soup earlier in the day to serve later, store the shredded chicken separately from the soup in the refrigerator. Don't cook the pastina until just before you are ready to serve the soup. Heat the soup in the pot until boiling, add the pastina, and after 10 minutes, stir in the shredded chicken and Parmesan.
I hope you love this Chicken Pastina Soup as much as we do!
More Italian soup recipes
- Minestrone with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
- Tuscan White Bean Soup with Escarole and Potatoes
- Italian Beef Soup with Pasta
- Pasta with Zucchini
- Pasta e Fagioli
Be sure to check out my soup archives for other favorites!
With my Pasta & Sauces collection, even a beginner can cook like an Italian nonna!
Chicken Pastina Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon pepper (divided use)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ medium yellow onion (or white, red)
- 3 medium celery stalks
- 2 large carrots
- 6 cups chicken stock (1 ½ quarts)
- 3 cups water
- ½ pound pastina (Acini di pepe or stelline. See notes.)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a soup pot and place it over medium heat. Use a long spoon to push the oil around the bottom of the pan so it completely covers the bottom. Heat the oil until it's sizzling.
- When the oil is sizzling, pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and add them to the pot with tongs. In a tiny bowl, stir together ¼ teaspoon of garlic, ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon of salt. Season the chicken with this mixture. Let the chicken sear for five minutes on the first side, until it's golden brown.
- Wear oven mitts while using tongs to flip the chicken over (the oil may splash). If the chicken is sticking to the pan, use the tongs to push under the chicken to separate it from the pan. When the chicken is flipped over, pour one cup of the chicken stock over it and cover the pot. Let the chicken simmer gently over medium heat for seven minutes.
- While the chicken is simmering, prepare the vegetables. Peel half an onion and chop it. Rinse the celery, scraping off any dirt, and trim off the ends. Cut the celery into small pieces (dice). (Cut a stalk in half the short way, then slice each of those pieces in half the long way. Then cut into small pieces.) Rinse the carrots and peel them. Trim off the ends. Cut the carrots into small pieces like the celery.
- When the chicken has simmered for seven minutes, use tongs to remove the chicken to a large bowl to sit for a couple minutes to cool. (If you have a stand mixer, place the chicken in the bowl of the stand mixer.) You will be shredding the chicken after you get the vegetables going in the pan (see the next step).
- While the chicken is cooling off a bit, add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot over medium-high heat and give them a stir. Sauté the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until the carrots and celery are soft. It could take 15 minutes. (You want to make sure you don't have crunchy vegetables in your soup.) If the liquid evaporates during this time, you can add a little stock to the pan, so the veggies don't burn.
- While the vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken. The easiest way is to use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to shred the chicken on a low setting. If you don't have a stand mixer, use two forks to shred the chicken. The chicken should be cooked through, but if it seems slightly undercooked, it will finish cooking later in the soup.
- When the vegetables are tender, add the rest of the chicken stock and 3 cups of water to the pot. Stir in ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper. Cover the pot, increase the heat to high, and let the soup come to a boil.
- When it is boiling, add the pastina to the pot. Lower the heat slightly, give the pasta a stir, and boil it for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Do not drain it. (Acini de pepe needs the 10 minutes, but stelline may cook faster.)
- After 10 minutes, stir in the shredded chicken and ⅓ cup grated Parmesan. Lower the heat and let the pot simmer for a couple minutes until the chicken is heated through. Taste to see if any additional salt is needed. (It will depend on how much salt was in your chicken stock.)
- Serve immediately by ladling some soup with pastina into each bowl. Sprinkle Parmesan (or Romano) on each serving. Any pastina left in the pot will absorb the broth quickly, so use a slotted spoon to remove the pastina to a separate container so it can be refrigerated later.
- Store leftover pastina separately from the broth. Refrigerate each for up to four days. To reheat, add some of the broth to the pastina in a bowl and heat, covered loosely with wax paper, in the microwave. If you run out of soup broth for leftovers, you can add some chicken stock to the pastina or serve it with butter and cheese.
- The leftovers also freeze well. Freeze the pastina and broth separately.
- Pastina is tiny pasta. It cooks up into a large amount, so you should not need more than ½ a pound here, even if you're used to cooking 1 pound of pasta. You can even use just ¼ pound of pastina, if you want the soup to have a higher ratio of broth to pasta.
- Once cooked, the pastina will quickly absorb the liquid in your pot. Serve the soup immediately, then use a slotted spoon to place any leftover pastina in a separate container from the broth.
- If you want to make the soup earlier in the day to serve later, store the shredded chicken separately from the soup in the refrigerator, and don't cook the pastina until just before you are ready to serve the soup. Heat the soup in the pot until boiling, add the pastina, and cook it for 10 minutes. Then, stir in the chicken and Parmesan.
- This recipe makes 8 standard servings, or 6 generous servings.
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C)