30 Minute Chicken Pastina Soup

The easiest chicken soup can be made in 30 minutes! Chicken Pastina Soup bring back some childhood memories of sick days and getting to watch TV in your room. Uses acini de pepe since pastina can be hard to find. For the juiciest chicken breasts ever, cook up my foolproof chicken breast recipe!

green floral bowl with chicken soup and spoon
A comforting bowl of homemade chicken pastina soup

Pastina pasta is one of the staples of an Italian-American childhood used to make chicken pastina soup. It’s a tiny pasta shaped like little stars made famous here in the US by Ronzoni. When Ronzoni announced that pastina was no longer going to be made due to manufacturing issues, chicken pastina soup lovers everywhere were heartbroken.

To Italian-Americans everywhere, chicken pastina soup is like penicillin for the soul.

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Where to buy pastina

Thankfully, there are pastina alternatives out there. For this chicken pastina soup recipe, you can do as I did and substitute acini de pepe, the same pasta shape used in this classic Italian wedding soup.

There are a few star shaped pastas currently on the market you might be able to find. Barilla makes a pastina pasta and Target has a stelline shape, each similar to the classic Ronzoni pasta (although clearly I couldn’t find them in my area).

Why is tiny pasta perfect for chicken soup?

measuring cup filled with acini de pepe pasta
Acini de pepe is a great substitute when you can’t find pastina

Easy and practical. A tiny pasta like acini de pepe or pastina lets you to scoop up a lot of pasta and broth on your soup spoon.

Doesn’t absorb too much broth. A hearty chicken soup loaded with egg noodles is so good but the noodles can soak up a lot of broth resulting in more of a stew-like chicken and dumplings texture and less like chicken soup.

Pastina pasta substitutes

Can’t find pastina or acini de pepe? Here are some extra tiny pasta shapes that would be great in chicken pastina soup:

Orzo. A rice-like pasta that is wider in the middle and tapers on the end. My favorite is Barilla’s orzo. To see orzo in action, give this quick Italian couscous

Israeli couscous. Bigger so it will soak up more broth. RiceSelect Israeli couscous is a great option as is one from Trader Joes. A star of this savory quick Italian couscous recipe.

Ditalini. A very small tube-shaped pasta. I like the ditalini from Barilla. Ditalini will also soak up a little more broth.

Alphabet pasta. The kids will love spelling out their names with this alphabet pasta in a bowl of homemade chicken soup!

Rice. Translates this soup into a Greek-style chicken and rice soup.

Ingredients for chicken pastina soup

green floral bowl with shredded chicken and ingredients to make chicken pastina soup
Everything you need to make chicken pastina soup including pastina, shredded chicken, carrots, celery, garlic. Not pictured: chicken stock

This soup is one that you can make easily and quickly making it such a simple weeknight meal.

Here’s all you need to get started:

  • Tiny pasta like acini de pepe or little stars
  • Holy Trinity of carrots, onion and celery
  • Simple herb and seasoning (fresh basil, bay leaves and salt + black pepper)
  • Chicken stock (you don’t have to use homemade broth! Store-bought stock is perfectly fine)
  • Shredded chicken. I use chicken breasts but if you have leftover chicken, feel free to use it! You can use a rotisserie chicken as well.
  • Lemon juice. A squeeze adds a little acid and brightness at the finish.

How to make chicken pastina soup

glass bowl with carrots, onion and celery
Chopped celery, carrots and onions known as the Holy Trinity
glass bowl with carrots, celery, onion and basil on a gray background
Add freshly chopped basil to vegetables
stockpot with sauteed carrots, celery and onion stirred with wooden spoon.
Saute veggies until translucent
stockpot with chicken pastina soup and a measuring cup with pastina in it
Add chicken stock and then pasta
  • Chop carrots, celery and onion. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Mince the basil and add to the veggies above.
  • Saute all the vegetables in a little olive oil until translucent.
  • Add the chicken stock, salt + pepper and bring to a boil.
  • Pour in the pastina or pasta and cook for 5 minutes

Do’s and don’ts for the best homemade chicken soup

green floral bowl on white plate filled with chicken soup and a spoon.

One of my favorite chicken soup recipes comes from my friend Susie at Mom’s Dinner. It is chicken noodle soup goals and like this Italian chicken soup recipe, it doesn’t take hours to make.

DO add more chicken stock if you use a pasta other than pastina or acini de pepe as they might soak up more broth.

DON’T skip the lemon. The acid from the lemon is what gives your chicken soup unexpected flavor and depth.

DO use fresh basil. Dried basil has a completely different flavor (it’s heavier and bitter) that changes chicken noodle soup to something altogether different.

DON’T waste the cooking liquid from the chicken. Using our foolproof chicken method? Add the broth to your chicken soup for a big flavor boost.

DO take a minute to find a very small pasta shape. It’s worth it and adds so much in terms of texture and helps make it an Italian chicken soup!

Storing, reheating and make ahead suggestions


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Reheating Tips

Stove. Reheat in a small saucepan over medium heat until warmed through.

Microwave. Place in a microwave-safe container partially covered with plastic wrap or a lid and heat in 30 second increments on high until desired temperature reached.

Make chicken soup a full meal

Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!

green floral bowl with chicken soup and spoon
5 from 1 vote

30 Minute Chicken Pastina Soup

The easiest chicken soup can be made in 30 minutes! Chicken Pastina Soup will bring back some childhood memories of sick days and getting to watch TV in your room. For the juiciest chicken breasts ever, cook up my foolproof chicken breast recipe! Use any little pasta shape like the acini de pepe used here.
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:20 minutes
Total Time:30 minutes
Servings 6
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For the soup base:


  • Mince the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Place in medium bowl.
    1 small onion, 1 stalk celery, 1 large carrot or 5-7 baby carrots, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
  • Stack the basil leaves one on top of each other and roll into a long cylinder. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the roll. Add to other minced veggies. Set aside and continue to the second step.
    5 basil leaves
  • Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot. Add the veggies from step one and saute over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.
    1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Add the stock to the stockpot along with salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil.
    2 qts chicken stock
  • Add the pasta to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the shredded chicken along with any broth if you used the foolproof chicken breast method. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 5 minutes more.
    1 cup acini di pepe, 2 chicken breasts halves
  • Squeeze some lemon in just before serving and sprinkle some grated romano on top. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.
    freshly grated Parmesan cheese, ½ lemon


  • Acini di pepe pasta is a small round rice-like pasta typically used in Italian wedding soup. We are using it since pastina has stopped being made. You can also use orzo or ditalini (but adjust the cooking time) as well.
  • You might need to add more broth if you make the soup ahead or it sits a bit before serving. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  • Feel free to use a cooked rotisserie chicken.

How to shred chicken tip

For the easiest way to shred cooked chicken breasts, put the whole breasts in a stand mixer and using your paddle attachment, turn the mixer on to medium and shred to the perfect texture. Now wasn’t that easy? Time saved and amazing results!
Course: Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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