This chicken pastina soup recipe is a simple, wholesome soup you and your family will love. Serve it with some crusty Italian bread and a nice green salad for a complete meal that's sure to become a family favorite.
Try my Crockpot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili next!
If you're looking for a comforting and hearty meal, look no further than chicken pastina soup.
This classic Italian soup is made with small pasta, chicken, and a flavorful broth.
It's the perfect meal for a chilly day or when you're feeling under the weather.
The star of chicken pastina soup is the small round pasta, which is known as pastina or acini de pepe. This pasta can be round or shaped like little stars.
Pastina is the perfect addition to soup because it cooks quickly and absorbs the flavors of the broth.
When combined with tender chicken and aromatic vegetables, pastina creates a satisfying and filling meal that is sure to please the whole family, just like in Nonna's kitchen.
Why You'll Love It
Simple recipe for busy weeknights: If you're looking for a simple and comforting recipe to add to your weeknight dinner rotation, chicken pastina soup is the perfect choice. This soup is easy to make and requires only a handful of simple ingredients, making it a great option for busy weeknights.
Comforting soup: One of the best things about chicken pastina soup is that it's a comfort food that can be enjoyed any time of year. Whether it's a chilly winter evening or a cool summer night, a warm bowl of soup is always a welcome meal. The combination of tender chicken, flavorful broth, and delicate pastina pasta is sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you feeling satisfied.
Great way to use up leftover chicken: If you have some cooked chicken on hand, you can easily shred it for the soup for a quick and easy meal.
Just like chicken noodle soup: If your family loves the iconic chicken noodle soup, then give this Italian chicken pastina soup a try. It's a great way to serve an Italian comfort food reminiscent of our American classic.
Scroll to the bottom for precise amounts and printable recipe card.
- Olive oil - this gives this chicken soup it's Italian flavor so I don't recommend swapping it out. I used extra virgin olive oil.
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts - this is the leanest option, but you might like to use thighs instead or in combination. Cooked chicken like rotisserie or leftover chicken works well too.
- Garlic powder - you use fresh, chopped garlic in the soup instead if you prefer.
- Dried oregano - swap for Italian seasoning, dried basil, dried tarragon.
- Salt and black pepper
- Chicken stock or broth - this can be homemade or a carton of broth from the grocery store. I used low sodium.
- Pastina pasta - this is a tiny pasta shape that works well in soups. You can also try tiny pasta stars called stelline, alphabet shapes, ditalini, or anelli.
- Parmesan cheese - freshly grated will have the best flavor. We like to use other hard cheeses like Pecorina Romano and Asiago.
- Bay leaf - optional; see instructions
- Garlic - optional; see instructions
STEP ONE: Pour olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.
STEP TWO: Season chicken pieces with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook chicken on each side for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it's almost cooked through. Set aside to be cut or shredded.
STEP THREE: Add chopped onions, carrots, celery, and oregano (and garlic if using) to the pan. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. If vegetables are drying out, add a few splashes of chicken broth to keep the mixture from burning.
STEP FOUR: When vegetables are tender, pour chicken broth and water into the pot. Include the bay leaf, if using. Bring to a boil over high heat, then pour in the pastina. Stir, then lower the heat a bit (so it doesn't boil over) and cook until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.
STEP FIVE: While the pasta is cooking, shred the chicken.
STEP SIX: When the pastina is cooked, add the shredded chicken to the pot along with one cup of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Remove bay leaf if needed.
SERVE your delicious chicken pastina soup with extra parmesan on the side.
Variations and Alternatives
- Use Different Noodles: If you don't have pastina on hand, you can use other types of noodles such as egg noodles, farfalle (bow ties) or penne. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- Try Different Broths: While chicken broth is the traditional choice for this soup, you can experiment with different types of broth such as vegetable or beef broth. You can also use bouillon cubes or powder instead of broth.
- Add Meatballs: If you want to turn your chicken pastina soup into an Italian wedding soup, you can add meatballs made from ground beef, pork, or turkey. Simply mix the ground meat with breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and egg, and form into small balls. Brown them in a pan before adding to the soup.
- Make It Creamy: For a richer and creamier soup, you can add heavy cream or half-and-half. Just be sure to add it at the end of the cooking process and heat it gently to prevent curdling.
- Add Spices: To give your soup more flavor, you can add spices such as garlic, oregano, basil, or thyme. You can also add a dash of hot sauce or red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.
Common Questions and Answers
Yes, you can use any small pasta you have on hand. Orzo, ditalini, or small shells would all work well.
Yes, you can freeze the soup for up to 3 months. Make sure to cool it completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container.
Yes, chop one tablespoon of fresh oregano or about 4 sprigs and add it to the broth after the pastina has cooked.
Yes, you can make the soup ahead of time and reheat it when you're ready to serve. For best results, use a slotted spoon or fine mesh strainer to separate the pastina from the rest of the soup to keep it from getting mushy. Add a splash of water or chicken broth when reheating to thin it out if needed.
- Cook the pasta separately and add it to the soup just before serving. This prevents the pasta from becoming mushy and overcooked.
- To save time, use pre-cooked chicken. Rotisserie chicken works great in this recipe.
- Add extra vegetables for more nutrition and flavor. Sliced mushrooms, baby spinach and chopped kale would make great additions.
- Don't forget to season with salt and pepper to taste. Start with a small amount and add more as needed.
- For a thicker soup, add a slurry of cornstarch and water to the soup and let it simmer for a few minutes.
How to Store
- To store your soup, let it cool down first. Separate the pastina from the rest of the soup to keep the pasta from absorbing the liquid and turning mushy.
- Transfer to airtight containers. You can store the soup in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- If you plan to freeze the soup, be sure to leave some extra space at the top of the container to allow for expansion as the soup freezes.
How to reheat
- Pour the soup into a pot and heat it over medium-low heat.
- Stir occasionally to prevent burning and ensure the soup heats evenly.
- Once the soup is heated through, it's ready to serve.
- Transfer the soup to a microwave-safe bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap.
- Heat the soup on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
- Check the temperature of the soup before serving to ensure it's heated through.
- To prevent the soup from becoming too thick, add a splash of chicken broth or water when reheating.
- For a boost of flavor, add a sprinkle of fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon juice to the soup before serving.
- If you're short on time, you can reheat the soup in the microwave directly from the freezer. Just be sure to stir frequently to ensure even heating.
More Soup Recipes
- Creamy Tomato Basil Soup: This classic soup is a crowd-pleaser. Made with canned tomatoes, cream, and a few simple seasonings, it's easy to make and perfect for a chilly day.
- Hearty Vegetable Stew: This soup is a great way to use up any leftover veggies in your fridge.
- Beef Stew: This hearty stew is perfect for a cold winter night. Tender beef, potatoes, and carrots are simmered in a rich broth until everything is tender and flavorful.
More Chicken Recipes
- Air Fryer Chicken Fajitas: If you're in the mood for something with a little more spice, try making chicken fajitas. Sliced chicken is cooked with onions and peppers, then served with warm tortillas and all the fixings. It's a fun and interactive meal that's perfect for a family dinner.
- Air Fryer Chicken Stir-Fry: If you're short on time, a chicken stir-fry is a quick and easy option. Sliced chicken is cooked with your favorite vegetables and a flavorful sauce, then served over rice. It's a versatile dish that you can customize to your liking.
- Cheesy Texas Chicken Spaghetti: this hearty meal is creamy with just a touch of spice. It has a cheesy, creamy sauce and plenty of bite sized chicken pieces making it a great option for a quick weeknight dinner.
Chicken Pastina Soup
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder or to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts a little more or less is ok
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 cup carrots chopped
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon fresh garlic minced, optional
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water for a lighter taste, or replace with broth
- 1 bay leaf optional
- 8 ounces pastina
- 1 cup parmesan cheese grated, plus more for serving
- Add olive oil to a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.
- Season chicken pieces with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook chicken on each side for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it's almost cooked through. Set aside to be cut or shredded.
- Add chopped onions, carrots, celery, and oregano (and garlic if using) to the pan. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. If vegetables are drying out, add a few splashes of chicken broth to keep the mixture from burning.
- When vegetables are tender, add remaining chicken broth and water to the pot. Add the bay leaf, if using. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add the pastina. Stir, then lower the heat a bit (so it doesn't boil over) and cook until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.
- While the pasta is cooking, shred the chicken.
- When the pastina is cooked, add the shredded chicken to the pot along with one cup of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Remove bay leaf if one was used.
- Serve with extra parmesan on the side.