Our easy Chicken Pastina Soup recipe is just what you need on a chilly fall day. Light, yet satisfying, it’s a fun twist on your basic chicken noodle.
With a simple clear broth seasoned with herbs and aromatic veggies, this nostalgic bowl of chicken and stars will take you back to your childhood…
Are you ready for soup season? We sure are!
Why this Recipe Works
- Rich Flavor Base: The use of olive oil, combined with the classic mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion), creates a flavorful base. This foundation is crucial in building layers of taste.
- Aromatic Herbs: The inclusion of thyme and rosemary, along with a bay leaf, introduces aromatic and earthy notes. These herbs complement the chicken and vegetables without overpowering them.
- Textural Contrast with Pastina: Pastina pasta, with its small size, adds a delightful texture to the soup. It soaks up the flavors of the broth, making each bite both comforting and satisfying.
- Simplicity and Ease: The recipe is straightforward and easy to follow, making it suitable for any Weeknight Dinner. Its simplicity is part of its charm, as it delivers a delicious, comforting meal without the need for complicated techniques or hard-to-find ingredients.
So What Exactly is Pastina?
Pastina is a type of tiny, star-shaped pasta that is a staple in many Italian kitchens, particularly for dishes aimed at children. Its name literally means “little pasta” in Italian, and it’s the smallest pasta shape available.
It is beloved for its versatility and ease of eating, making it especially popular for soups and as a first food for toddlers.
The popular pasta brand Ronzoni created quite a stir in early 2023 when it was announced that they would discontinue the popular pasta shape. Fans were absolutely devastated.
Fortunately, Barilla and other brands still produce the beloved star pasta.
- Olive Oil – A staple in Mediterranean cooking. We use a light variety of olive oil to allow the other flavors to shine.
- Chicken Thighs – Chicken thighs are more flavorful and juicier than breast meat. The bones and skin add extra depth to the broth, infusing it with rich, savory flavors. That being said, you can follow the same recipe with boneless skinless thighs.
- Soffritto – Onion, carrots and celery. These aromatic veggies form the backbone of flavor for many soups and stews.
- Garlic – Fresh is always best.
- Chicken Broth – The base of your soup. A good quality broth will greatly enhance the overall taste of the soup.
- Herbs – These add a lot of flavor to your soup. If you have fresh herbs on hand, feel free to use those. Remember, dried herbs are more potent, so use three times as much fresh herbs as you would dried.
- Pastina Pasta – The literal star of the dish. It cooks quickly and is easy to eat. If you can’t find it in your local grocery store, suitable alternatives are orzo, ditalini or acini de pepe.
How to Make Chicken Pastina Soup
For more detailed instructions, as well as specific measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post. Here is a quick overview:
1. Brown the chicken: This step adds a lot of flavor to the end product. Give the thighs a quick sear, about 5 minutes per side. Remove them to a plate.
2. Sauté the soffritto: Add in onion, carrots and celery. Sauté till they start to soften, then add in garlic for a minute.
3. Simmer: Add in broth, chicken and herbs. Simmer for at least 20 minutes.
4. Shred the chicken: Remove the chicken from the soup and discard the skin and bones. Shred the meat, then return to the soup.
5. Cook the pastina: Add in the star pasta. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then serve.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Chicken Choices: You can certainly use boneless skinless chicken for this recipe. It does make the shredding step a bit quicker. But the skin and bones do add a lot of flavor to the broth, so that’s why we use them.
- Browning the Chicken: Ensure the chicken thighs are well-seared. This caramelization adds depth to the soup’s flavor.
- Perfect the Soffritto: Do not be tempted to rush your soffritto by turning up the heat. You do not want to brown the vegetables, but simply soften them.
- Deglazing: When adding the chicken broth, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. These bits are packed with flavor.
- Simmering the Soup: Allow the soup to simmer gently. Boiling it vigorously can make the chicken tough and break down the vegetables too much. If time allows, simmer for longer to allow the flavors to develop even more.
- Skim the Fat: Cooking chicken with the skin on may result in a lot of grease floating to the top of the broth. In this case, skim it off into a bowl.
- Cooking Pastina: Add the pastina towards the end of cooking and watch it closely, as it cooks quickly. Overcooked pastina can become mushy.
- Serving Temperature: Serve the soup hot, but be cautious of the temperature, especially if serving to children. The pastina can retain heat.
- Lazy Day Hack: In a hurry? Use shredded rotisserie chicken!
Storage and Reheating
Chicken and stars refrigerates well for 4-5 days. First, allow it to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container for refrigeration.
It can also be frozen for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container. Just thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
Reheat the soup in a pan on stovetop over medium heat until heated through.
Take a nostalgic culinary trip back in time with our easy pastina soup recipe. Sometimes even the simplest things in life can bring so much comfort and joy.
Pin or bookmark this delicious recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you.
Chicken Pastina Soup, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- ½ medium white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup dried pastina pasta
- Heat olive oil in a medium dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then add them to the pot skin side down and sear until they begin to brown up, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and sear other side 4-5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
- Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of oil (the chicken will have released some additional), and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrots and celery. Sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute.
- Add in chicken broth and stir, making sure to scrap up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return chicken to pan, along with thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Cooking with the skin on may result in a lot of grease floating to the top of the broth. In this case, skim it off into a bowl.
- Take chicken out of broth and put on a plate. Remove and discard skin and bones. Shred the meat, then add back into the soup.
- Bring soup to a boil. Add in pasta, and cook until it is done, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and serve.
- You can use boneless skinless chicken for this recipe. It does make the shredding step a bit quicker. But the skin and bones do add a lot of flavor to the broth, so that’s why we use them.
- Allow the soup to simmer gently. Boiling it vigorously can make the chicken tough and break down the vegetables too much. If time allows, simmer for longer to allow the flavors to develop even more.
- Serve the soup hot, but be cautious of the temperature, especially if serving to children. The pastina can retain heat.
- Leftovers refrigerate well in an airtight container for 4-5 days. Reheat in a pan on stovetop over medium heat.
- For lazy days, use pre-shredded rotisserie chicken.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 463Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 174mgSodium 1658mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 3gSugar 4gProtein 36g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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