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!
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.
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?
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
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
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:
How to make chicken pastina soup
Pro Tip for Shredded Chicken
After cooking your chicken breasts, add them (while warm) to the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment and turn on medium until the chicken is perfectly shredded!
Do's and don'ts for the best homemade chicken soup
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.
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
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30 Minute Chicken Pastina Soup
For the soup base:
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 1 large carrot or 5-7 baby carrots, finely diced
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper, adjust pepper to ½ teaspoon if using Foolproof Chicken recipe
- 5 basil leaves, directions below
- 2 cloves garlic , peeled and minced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 qts chicken stock, or more as needed
- 1 cup acini di pepe, see note below
- 2 chicken breasts halves, cooked and shredded; I used my Foolproof Chicken recipe
- ½ lemon
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing
- 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 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon 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 tablespoon 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 tipFor 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!
About Lori Murphy
Lori has over 30 years in the food industry as a marketing strategist, culinary instructor and chef for three kids with discerning palates. As the chief content creator at Josie + Nina, Lori is dedicated to helping home cooks create food memories through fresh ingredients and Italian flavors.