Easy Italian Pastina Soup Recipe – Delicious and Quick

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When you’re looking for an easy soup that warms the soul, this Italian pastina soup recipe is a perfect choice. My recipe is a simple and authentic version, the way old school Italians enjoy their pastina. This pasta-filled soup requires very little effort to make and can be ready in less than 15 minutes. 

italian pastina soup recipe

This pastina soup uses just a handful of common ingredients and offers flexible options which I’ll explain further below.

Italian Pastina Soup Recipe

The first time I heard of this recipe was when my husband was sick and instead of asking for chicken soup, all he wanted was some cooked acini di pepe in broth. No problem – that’s easy! Ends up his Sicilian mother used to make it for him all the time and now I continue the tradition and am sharing my recipe with you.

This recipe is a classic version that cooks the tiny pasta directly in chicken broth. You can use chicken stock, but if you do, make sure the stock has the flavor that you want by adding a little bit of dried parsley and a small dash of dried oregano, along with salt and black pepper.

A traditional pastina soup should not be brothy as I’ve seen some people claim. It should actually end up somewhere between a soup and a risotto. The reason it’s called Pastina soup is because the main ingredient is the tiny pasta. This soup captures the essence of simple Italian cooking and I hope you like it! Let’s get started!

What is Pastina?

types of pastina

Pastina is an Italian word that means little pasta. When called pastina soup – it literally means tiny pasta soup. Traditionally, this soup uses acini di pepe as the tiny pasta shape of choice. Acini is very small, almost like little balls.

Imagine taking some angel hair pasta and cutting it into very tiny pieces about 1 centimeter in length, if not smaller. That’s pretty much what it is.

Ingredients

As for the ingredients, this recipe uses only 5, and just 2 ingredients if you just want broth and pasta.

pastina soup ingredients

Chicken broth: You can use homemade chicken broth if you want, but to save time, use a good quality organic brand. See my tips below for choosing the best broth.

Pastina: Remember, this means little pasta. So any type of tiny pasta will work. I use acini di pepe, but sometimes these can be hard to find. You can also buy the little stars which are sometimes sold under the name Pastina, which in my opinion is misleading.

Parmesan Grated Cheese: Use a good quality cheese brand. I like to buy my cheese in blocks and grate them; they last longer this way. You can read my post about how to grate Italian cheese here.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is used for drizzling on at the end before serving. It’s optional and doesn’t have to be used, but I like it.

Salt: This too is optional. If I’m using a low sodium broth or my own homemade, I’ll use a dash of salt for flavor enhancing.

PRO TIP: When using chicken broth, it’s important to use a good quality broth that has the flavors appropriate for a soup. Check the box if it’s store-bought and make sure it doesn’t have overpowering ingredients like rosemary, or other strong herbs.

Equipment for this Recipe

How to Make Italian Pastina Soup

pastina soup in bowl

As I already mentioned, this simple pastina soup recipe is super easy to make, so here are the steps to follow. You can use the recipe card at the bottom of this post to print out or for detailed measurements.

Step 1- In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil.

Step 2- Add the pastina and give it a stir to prevent sticking.

adding cheese

Step 3 – Stir in the cheese and then cook the pasta according to package instructions. If using acini di pepe, this should be about 9 minutes.

cooked pastina in sauce pan

You’ll notice that the pastina pasta will absorb most of the liquid. This is fine. We do not drain the liquid because everything is combined in the saucepan together.

Step 4- When the pasta is ready, drizzle the olive oil on top. Give it a stir and serve.

PRO TIP: Generally, one cup of pastina is used per 4 cups of liquid. If you prefer your soup to be more brothy, then increase it to 6 cups of broth or water. You can also add a little bit of hot water to loosen the pasta if it sits for too long before serving.

Recipe Substitutions & Variations

italian pastina soup in blue bowl

Here are some recipe modifications you can make with this soup.

  1. Use a different pasta type. Kids love the little stars or alphabet pasta, so that’s always a fun choice. You can also use orzo. That’s the type of pasta that is often used in Italian wedding soup.
  2. Don’t use chicken broth. Instead you can substitute water for the broth. If so, I’d recommend using the salt and add ¼ cup of Romano cheese which is stronger. You can also use vegetable broth or even bone broth instead of the chicken broth.
  3. Add herbs. You can use Italian parsley or curly parsley; both would work fine.
  4. Omit the cheese and/or olive oil for an even simpler soup.

Storage and Reheating

If you have leftover Italian pastina soup, don’t toss it out! This soup can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. You can also freeze it for 3 to 6 months.

Reheating your pastina soup is a breeze, I recommend reheating it over the stove for best results. Keep in mind, when the pasta cools and is refrigerated, the little bits of pasta stick together due to the starch. This is normal.

To reheat over the stove

1. Add a ¼ cup of liquid (broth or water) to the pastina in the container or the saucepan.

2. Use a fork or spoon to break up the chunks of pasta that are stuck together. Add more water if needed to loosen the pastina.

3. Reheat over low heat in a saucepan until the soup is heated through.

Reheating in the soup in the microwave.

I do not recommend using a microwave to reheat this soup, since the pasta has absorbed most of the liquid anyway. If you must however, then follow these steps:

1. Place in a microwaveable bowl.

2. Add ¼ cup of liquid and use a spoon or fork to break up all the little pasta.

3. Reheat in the microwave about 3 minutes or until heated through depending on how powerful your microwave is. Check on it half-way through.

What to Serve with Italian Pastina Soup

This easy Italian pastina soup can be served as the main meal or as a side dish or first course. When you want to serve more than just the soup, try adding these additional recipes.

chicken marsala

Chicken marsala is an easy one-pan recipe that is traditional and flavorful. My recipe is healthier than most because I don’t use a heavy cream sauce.

peppers, sausage and onion

Italian sausage, peppers and onions is a classic Italian recipe that can be used as a main dish or side dish.

authentic italian bread th

Homemade Italian bread is perfect with any Italian soup. Enjoy my recipe for authentic Italian bread.

Similar Italian Soups You May Enjoy

Pasta fagioli soup is a delicious soup that also uses pasta shapes. It is a hearty soup that is full of beans and vegetables.

winter minestrone soup

My minestrone soup recipe is super easy. It doesn’t use pasta but has potatoes and vegetables that make it a healthy soup during cold winter months!

stracciatella soup th

Enjoy this easy Italian egg drop soup, also known as stracciatella alla Romana soup.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Italian pastina soup recipe. Didn’t I say it was easy?! Is this your first time making this soup? If so, let me know in the comments below how it turned out and if you made any changes to make it your own!

italian pastina soup

Italian Pastina Soup

Enjoy this soul-warming Italian pastina soup. It uses tiny pasta for a delicious risotto-like soup that’s perfect during colder months or when feeling under the weather.
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Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 300kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken broth or other broth or water
  • 1 cup acini di pepe or other tiny pasta
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese or Romano
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt optional

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth (or water) to a boil. If using water, add the salt.
    4 cups chicken broth, 1/8 tsp salt
  • Add the acini di pepe (or other tiny pasta) to the broth and stir.
    1 cup acini di pepe
  • Add in the cheese, stir, and cook according to the package instructions. For the acini di pepe, it’s about 9 minutes.
    1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Once the pasta has cooked, add the olive oil and sprinkle some more cheese if you'd like.
    1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Stir and serve warm.

Notes

*Nutritional facts are estimates based on API calculations.
  • Do not be alarmed if the pastina soaks up the majority of the pasta water. This is normal and expected. You still want a little liquid, but not much. This should look similar to a risotto.
  • Estimate ¼ cup of tiny pasta per serving, and 1 full cup of pastina for the whole recipe. Use 1 quart (4 cups) of liquid for each 1 cup of pastina.
  • For a more brothy soup, increase it from 4 cups of liquid to 6 cups.

Nutrition

Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 1382mg | Potassium: 88mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 221IU | Calcium: 230mg | Iron: 2mg
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