Pastina is a type of tiny pasta that is perfect for cozy, comforting soups and dishes. This classic Italian pastina recipe is simple to make but full of flavor. Read on to learn the history of pastina and how to make this hearty, soothing meal.
A Brief History of Pastina
Pastina means “little pasta” in Italian. It originated in Italy as a pasta for young children since the small shape is easy for little hands to pick up and eat. The tiny pasta pieces are also quick-cooking and ideal for soups. Pastina has been a staple in Italian homes for generations as a nourishing, soothing food.
Table of Contents
Ingredients You Will Required For This Pastina Recipe
- 8 cups water or broth
- 2 cups pastina pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Use any small pasta shape such as stelline, anellini, orzo, or alphabets. Broth can be chicken or vegetable.
- Large pot with lid
- Wooden spoon for stirring
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Cutting board and knife
- Ladle for serving
- Bring the water or broth to a boil in a large pot. Season generously with salt.
- Meanwhile, dice the onion, garlic, carrot and celery.
- Grate the Parmesan cheese.
- Wash and peel the carrot.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in the pot.
- Add the chopped onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the dry pastina and stir to coat with oil. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Carefully pour in the boiling water or broth. Bring to a boil again.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pastina is al dente.
- Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted. The broth will thicken slightly.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the water for more flavor.
- Add chopped greens like spinach or kale for extra nutrition.
- Mix in cooked chicken, turkey, or sausage.
- Top with extra Parmesan or pecorino cheese.
- Swap out vegetables like zucchini, green beans, or tomatoes.
- Add a splash of cream or milk for a creamier texture.
Tips and Tricks
- Cook the pastina just until al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. It will continue to cook and soak up liquid as it sits.
- The soup will thicken up after cooking. Add extra broth or water if you prefer a thinner consistency.
- Grating the Parmesan rather than cubing it helps the cheese melt and integrate easier.
- Squeeze lemon juice on top for some brightness.
- For fun, use alphabet pastina for kids!
- Serve hot with crusty bread for dipping.
- Garnish with extra Parmesan cheese, parsley or red pepper flakes.
- Pair with a mixed green salad with Italian dressing.
- Enjoy with a glass of Pinot Grigio or Chianti wine.
A 1 cup serving provides:
- Calories: 173
- Carbohydrates: 30g
- Protein: 7g
- Fiber: 2g
Storage and Leftovers
Pastina soup will keep refrigerated for 3-4 days. The pasta will soak up more liquid as it sits. Add extra broth when reheating if needed.
To freeze, let cool completely then transfer to freezer bags or containers. It will keep frozen for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot.
- Pasta is undercooked: Allow it to simmer longer, checking every 2 minutes until it reaches desired tenderness.
- Soup is too thin: Simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. Stir in extra grated Parmesan cheese or cream.
- Soup is bland: Add more salt, pepper and grated Parmesan for flavor. You can also stir in pesto or Italian herb seasoning.
- Vegetables are undercooked: Make sure to sauté them long enough to soften before adding liquid.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of broth is best to use?
Chicken or vegetable broth will both work well. For a heartier soup, use chicken. For vegetarian or vegan, use vegetable broth. You can also use water.
Can I prepare pastina recipe ahead of time?
Yes, you can cook the pasta separately up to 2 days in advance. Store cooled in the fridge until ready to use in soup. Add to broth and warm everything together.
What ingredients can I add to vary the flavor?
Some delicious additions include chopped greens like spinach, sliced mushrooms, frozen peas, diced zucchini or shredded chicken. Fresh herbs like basil, oregano or parsley also add nice flavor.
Is pastina gluten-free?
Traditional pastina contains wheat flour so is not gluten-free. However, you can find gluten-free pastina made from rice flour, quinoa or corn. Just check ingredient labels.
A Nostalgic Meal
Pastina soup is one of my favorite comfort foods that brings back childhood memories. I remember my mother making a big batch on cold, rainy days and serving it with homemade bread. The warmth of the soup paired with the chewy pasta never fails to make me feel cozy and nostalgic. I hope this recipe inspires you to make this hearty Italian classic! Let me know how it goes when you make it.
Share Your Creations
I’d love to see your culinary creations! Share a photo on Instagram and tag @americansrecipes so I can see your pasta masterpieces.
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