Chicken Pastina Soup Recipe

This Chicken Pastina Soup recipe, aka "Italian Penicillin", or also known as sopita, is a comforting, vegetable-packed soup that is perfect for the chilly winter season!

Wooden spoon with soup on it and the bowl of soup in the background.

Why This Recipe Works

The deep-colored and rich broth in this chicken pastina soup recipe is secretly filled with vegetable goodness that makes it the perfect meal to help you this cold and flu season! The simple preparation of this healing soup will surprise you. It is one of my favorite recipes and I make it at least once a month! Simply simmer some vitamin-rich and aromatic vegetables in your favorite chicken broth, blend, add some little pasta, and voila! You will have a delicious and comforting soup that even the pickiest of eaters will love.

This chicken pastina soup is also often referred to as "Italian penicillin" since it is a version of Italian chicken noodle soup that is used to help cure young ones of mild sicknesses like cold. This style of soup can also be found in other cultures and is often referred to as "sopita" in Mexico. Sopita generally has a tomato or two added to the broth as well. I have made it this way and it is super delicious!

The chicken in this recipe appears only in the form of chicken broth, to keep things super simple and easy to digest. However, if you want added protein and a bit of extra flavor to the broth, you can simmer chicken breast or skinless chicken thighs in the broth as well, then shred it and add it back in along with the pureed veggies.

Ingredients

This simple chicken pastina soup recipe with acini di pepe uses good-for-you, basic ingredients that are simple to find. Here's what you'll need:

Ingredients needed for chicken pastina soup.
  • Chicken Broth: Chicken broth offers a rich and cozy flavor. You can use your favorite brand of boxed broth, chicken boillon and water, or make homemade chicken broth!
  • Vegetables: I used the classic combination of carrots, onion, celery and garlic here. You can throw in tomatoes to make this a sopita-style soup instead!
  • Spices: To make an extra flavorful broth, I like to add a some dried thyme and basil to the soup. However, you don't have to add these if you prefer not to!
  • Pasta: You will want to use a small pasta shapes here, aka pastina. I used acini di pepe which are very small balls. You can also use pastina stars, stelline, orzo or even ditalini.
  • Fresh Herbs: Garnish with fresh herbs like chopped parsley or cilantro!
  • Parmesan Cheese: Finish it off with some grated parmesan cheese, too!

How to Make Chicken Pastina Soup

  1. Simmer the Broth: Bring the chicken broth or chicken stock to a boil in a large pot on medium heat. Make sure to keep it at a gentle boil, so as to not lose too much liquid to evaporation.
  2. Add Veggies: Add roughly chopped onion, carrots and celery, and full garlic cloves. It doesn't matter how you chop it since we will be blending later! The larger the chunks of vegetables, the longer they will take to get tender, though. Allow to simmer in the broth for about 20-30 minutes, until fork tender.
Veggies and herbs simmering in chicken broth on the stove.
  1. Separate Veggies: Scoop out the vegetables and garlic and place into a blender. Add a little bit of broth into the blender as well so it blends more easily.
  2. Blend: Carefully blend the vegetables until smooth. If you have an immersion blender and want to use that, you can. It might not be as smooth of a mixture, but it will do the trick!
  1. Add Pasta: Add the pureed vegetables back into the pot with the broth. Add the acini di pepe or other small pastina, making sure to stir frequently as they have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  2. Simmer: Cook until the pasta is plump and al dente, about 10 minutes.
Chicken pastina soup simmering in a pot on the stove.
  1. Serve: Serve with freshly grated parmesan and fresh parsley or cilantro, along with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.
Chicken soup in a bowl with parmesan and parsley on top next to a small bowl with parmesan in it.

Tips for Success

  • To make a vegetarian version of this pastina soup recipe, simply swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth!
  • Add some chicken! For added protein, throw in some left over shredded rotisserie chicken or simmer in some skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs! Simmering the chicken directly in the broth will create a rich chicken broth and tender chicken.
  • To add even more flavor to the broth, you can throw in a parmesan rind if you have one! Parmesan rinds add a depth of savory flavor that is wonderful in so many soup recipes!
  • To make your Italian chicken pastina soup ahead of time, boil the pasta in a separate pot of water. Drain and serve the pasta in a bowl then ladle the broth on top. Store them separately. If you store the pasta in the broth, the pasta will soak up a lot of the broth, making it super thick. Still delicious, but not as soupy!
  • This pastina recipe is delicious on its own, but would go great with a side of crusty Italian bread to make it a more hearty meal!
Chicken pastina soup in a bowl with a small bowl of parmesan cheese in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pastina?

The word "pastina" means "little pasta". Many of us associate the little stars as pastina, since the brand Barilla Pasta sells pastina stars labeled as pastina. But technically, any small shape of pasta is pastina! I like to use little stars, acini di pepe, or orzo here.

How should I store pastina chicken soup leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If you are cooking this soup with the intent of having leftovers, cook the pastina pasta in a separate pot of water and drain. Then serve the cooked pastina in the bowl and lade the warm broth over the top! This will keep the pasta from getting to squishy and soaking up all the broth.

Close up shot of chicken soup with acini di pepe in a bowl.

More Recipes to Try

A spoon lifting pastina soup above a bowl.

Chicken Pastina Soup Recipe

This Chicken Pastina Soup recipe, aka "Italian Penicillin", or also known as sopita, is a comforting, vegetable-packed soup that is perfect for the chilly winter season!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 199 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 white onion
  • 2-3 large carrots
  • 3 stalk celery
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 cup Acini di Pepe or small pasta like orzo or little stars
  • parsley or cilantro for garnish
  • grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot. 
  • Add roughly chopped onion, carrots and celery, and full garlic cloves. It doesn't matter how you chop it since we will be blending later! Allow to simmer for about 20-30 minutes until fork tender. 
  • Scoop out the vegetables and garlic and place into a blender. Add a little bit of the broth into the blender as well so it blends more easily. 
  • Carefully blend the vegetables until smooth. If you have an immersion blender and want to use that, you can. It might not be as smooth of a mixture, but it will do the trick!
  • Add the pureed vegetables back into the pot with the chicken broth. 
  • Add the acini di pepe or other small pasta into the pot, being sure to stir frequently as they have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Cook until plump and al dente, about 10-12 minutes. 
  • Serve with freshly grated parmesan and parsley or cilantro if desired. 

Notes

To make your Italian chicken pastina soup ahead of time, boil the pasta in a separate pot of water. Drain and serve the pasta in a bowl then ladle the broth on top. Store them separately. If you store the pasta in the broth, the pasta will soak up a lot of the broth, making it super thick. Still delicious, but not as soupy!

Nutrition

Calories: 199kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 8gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 1333mgPotassium: 222mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 5122IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 2mg
Keyword chicken pastina soup
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