The coziest pastina soup with vegetables, tiny pasta, chicken broth and parmesan cheese. Italian nonnas call this "Italian penicillin soup," because not only is this little noodle soup comforting and healing in the best way, but it's an easy weeknight recipe takes one pot and is on your table in just 30 minutes!  

an overhead photo of a serving of pastina soup garnished with parsley and parmesan cheese in a bowl with a spoon.
Photo Credits: Ali Redmond

Pastina soup is often called Minestrina, Pastina in Brodo, or, affectionately, “Italian penicillin.” After one spoonful of tiny star-shaped pasta swimming in delicate chicken broth you’ll understand why! 

Like Greek Avgolemono soup or Turkish Mercimek Çorbası (lentil soup), pastina soup is a simple pantry dinner used to warm a child’s belly, often to ward off a cold or just create that cozy comfort that only soup can provide.

While pastina is traditionally made with homemade chicken stock or broth, I swap in low sodium store-bought for an easy weeknight version that comes together quickly. And you can use any tiny pasta you have on hand, like acini di pepe or orzo. 

Whether you need a soup for cold to get an immunity boost or not, I know you'll love this nourishing easy soup!

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for Pastina Soup
  2. How to Make Pastina Soup
  3. Getting Ahead and Storage
  4. What to Serve with Pastina Soup
  5. More Chicken Soup Recipes
  6. Save When You Bundle Our Best-Selling Olive Oil Collection!
  7. Pastina Soup Recipe
Ingredients for pastina soup including chicken broth, yellow onion, carrots, celery, parmesan rind, salt, pastina, parsely and grated parmesan cheese.


Ingredients for Pastina Soup

Pastina is meant to be a humble pantry meal. You likely have most everything on hand! Here’s what you need: 

  • Chicken broth: Use homemade chicken stock or low sodium store-bought chicken broth. That way you can add salt to your liking. 
  • Fresh Vegetables: Onion, carrot, and celery make the aromatic foundation of the broth. I like the mild sweetness of yellow onion, but you can use white onion or 2-3 shallots in its place. 
  • Parmesan rind: Spikes the broth with loads of umami flavor. Save your leftover parmesan rinds in the freezer to keep them on-hand. You can also use a large chunk of parmesan, though it’s more expensive than using the rind which would typically end up in your trash can. 
  • Kosher salt: Enhances the flavor.
  • Pasta: I love pastina’s cute star shape for a cozy, nasutalgic quality. But any tiny pasta, like alphabet, orzo, or acini di pepe would also work.
  • Parsley: Adds freshness and depth of flavor. You can substitute with dill or basil. 
  • Parmesan: Freshly grated parmesan cheese adds a perfectly salty umami-rich finish.  
an overhead photo of a serving of pastina soup garnished with parsley and parmesan cheese in a bowl with a spoon.


How to Make Pastina Soup

Pastina soup is an easy weeknight recipe you can memorize and make on repeat. Here are the four easy steps:

  • Simmer the broth. Peel and chop 1 onion and 2 carrots into large pieces. Chop 2 celery ribs into large pieces. Add to a large pot with a lid, along with 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, a parmesan rind, and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. an overhead photo of a pot of simmering broth for pastina soup with the onion, carrots, celery and parmesan rind.
  • Puree the vegetables. Discard the parmesan rind, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to a food processor. Add a couple ladles of the broth and blend until the vegetables are fully smooth. Scrape the pureed vegetables back into the pot. an overhead photo of the blended vegetables and broth in a pot with a ladle.
  • Boil the pasta. Turn the heat to high to bring the broth to a boil. Once boiling, stir in 1 ½ cups pastina. Cook until the pasta is tender, about 3 minutes or so. Remove the soup from the heat. an overhead photo of a pot of pastina soup with a ladle.
  • Serve. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning, adding more salt if it tastes flat. Ladle the pastina into serving bowls. Finish each bowl with a sprinkle of parsley and grated parmesan cheese and serve hot. an overhead photo of 2 bowls of pastina soup garnished with parsley and parmesan cheese, one with a spoon, next to a pot of soup with a ladle.


Getting Ahead and Storage

For this pastina soup recipe you can make the broth ahead of time, cover, and store in your refrigerator for up to 5 days. The tricky part is that the pasta will soak up the broth and get rather floppy. To prevent this, I like to cook my pasta separately then add it to my soup as needed. If you’d like to get ahead:

  • Wait to add the pasta. Make the broth and allow to cool fully. Store, covered in your refrigerator for up to 5 days or your freezer for up to 3 months. 
  • Boil the pasta. When you’re ready to serve, heat the broth over high until. Cook the pasta in the boiling broth. 
  • If you don’t plan to eat the whole pot. Cook your desired amount of pasta in boiling salted water, then drain and divide among your serving bowls. Top with the hot broth and serve. 

Or, if you’re looking for a proper "meal prep" chicken soup you can freeze and easily reheat in one step, try our Soupe Jo (Persian Chicken Barley Soup) or Chicken Stew

2 bowls of pastina soup garnished with parsley and parmesan cheese, one with a spoon in it, one with a spoon next to it.


What to Serve with Pastina Soup

Pastina soup is a one pot meal–it’s satisfying enough to go without sides. If you’d like to up your  fresh greens, though go for a crisp and effortless lemon parmesan lettuce salad or a simple green salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.

More Chicken Soup Recipes

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The coziest pastina soup with vegetable-spiked chicken broth and parmesan cheese. This easy weeknight recipe takes one pot and is on your table in just 30 minutes!  Serve with crusty bread and a crisp fresh salad.
Prep – 5 minutes
Cook – 25 minutes
Total – 30 minutes
Cuisine:
Italian
Serves – 4
Course:
Entree, Soup

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into large pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into large pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced into large pieces
  • 1 parmesan rind (about 2-inches long)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cup pastina or any tiny pasta variety, like alphabet, orzo, or acini di pepe
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Instructions
 

  • Simmer the broth. In a large pot with a lid, stir together the broth, onion, carrots, celery, parmesan rind, and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Puree the vegetables. Discard the parmesan rind, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to a food processor. Add a couple ladles of the broth and blend until the vegetables are fully smooth. Scrape the purreed vegetables back into the pot.
  • Boil the pasta. Turn the heat to high to bring the broth to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the pastina. Cook until the pasta is tender, about 3 minutes or so. Remove the soup from the heat.
  • Serve. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning, adding more salt if it tastes flat. Ladle the pastina into serving bowls. Finish each bowl with a sprinkle of parsley and grated parmesan cheese and serve hot.

Video

Notes

  • Parmesan rind: Save your leftover parmesan rinds in the freezer to keep them on-hand (you can add them to the soup straight from frozen). You can also use a large chunk of parmesan, though it’s more expensive than using the rind which would typically end up in your trash can.
  • Getting ahead & storage: The broth will keep, covered in your refrigerator, for up to 5 days, but leftover pasta will soak up the broth and get soggy. If you don’t think you’ll finish the entire pot, cook your desired amount of pasta separately in boiling salted water. Drain, add to your serving bowls, then ladle hot broth over top before finishing with parmesan and parsley.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 307.8kcalCarbohydrates: 57.2gProtein: 15.7gFat: 3.5gSaturated Fat: 0.7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0.2mgSodium: 136mgPotassium: 468.4mgFiber: 3.7gSugar: 5.4gVitamin A: 5422.7IUVitamin C: 8.9mgCalcium: 39.5mgIron: 3.2mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have to ask - why no garlic? I added 6 cloves of garlic and I can’t imagine making pasting without the garlic. All the other ingredients/flavorings were fine. I did add a nice splash of extra virgin olive oil and lemon at the end.

  2. 1 star
    I love this recipe. I put more carrots and celery in mine. I remove some of the vegetables before blending it with an immersion blender. I never have a Parmesan rind so I just add some grated Parmesan. This recipe will be on repeat in my kitchen 😁😁

  3. 5 stars
    This was coming out really well until I misremembered the recipe and 1.5 BOXES of pastina, which turned it into a risotto-like dish. Looking forward to try the recipe as written lol.

  4. 5 stars
    Both my husband and I are down sick with the Flu. I made this today and had 2 small bowls. I added a half of a squeezed lemon. It was delicious and sure seems to be helping.

  5. 5 stars
    I was snowed in and didn't have orzo or small pasta so I added 3/4 cup minute rice. I also added a little minced garlic and a squeeze of lemon.Delicious!

  6. 5 stars
    Can I give this recipe 10 stars?! It's incredible and really hit the spot while getting over a nasty respiratory virus! As others suggested, I cooked the pasta separately for leftover purposes, added a few large cloves of garlic with the vegetables and a tablespoon of lemon juice at the end. Next time I might even try this with a Thai twist using fresh ginger, fish sauce for umami, sdsauce, basil, lime juice and rice noodles. 🙂

    1. Interesting twists ! However true “Italian penicillin “ is just homemade chicken broth with pastina. It should be very simple to help heal a upset tummy or help a cold. Adding all the extra ingredients make this a heartier soup and defeats the purpose of lightness. Nonnas make this for sick babies.

    1. Hello! This particular recipe can be divided by 4 to get the approximate "serving size". The nutrition info here is our best effort and we use a program that calculates that for us based on the ingredient list. The exact serving size measurement (by grams, cups, etc) is another layer that's harder for us to precisely calculate at the moment, but we're working on it!

  7. 3 stars
    I made a vegan version of this (veggie broth, no parm. rind), sprinkling with nutritional yeast at the end. It was so bland that I tried making it more interesting with some dried marjoram, to no avail. Maybe this just isn't meant to be vegan.