This quick and easy Italian Pastina Soup is a one-pot wonder that combines a seasoned broth, comforting vegetables, and tiny pastina pasta. The dish is a vegan-friendly take on a traditional recipe straight from my family’s kitchen. Simple and flavorful, it’s the ideal weeknight meal for a cold day.
Why You’ll Love This Pastina Soup
This homemade soup is comforting, warm, and perfect for colder months. Here are a few reasons why we love this recipe and you will too:
- Flavorful One-Pot Wonder: One pot, less mess, and quicker clean-up. This recipe uses bouillon, lots of vegetables, herbs, and a bit of white wine.
- Quick and Easy: This soup is ready in just about 30 minutes, making it a great option for weeknight dinners.
- Family Recipe, Veganized: I’ve adapted this from my family’s recipe to give you this nostalgic yet vegan-friendly pastina pasta soup.
What is Pastina
Pastina is the Italian word for “little pasta,” and in this case, it refers to the tiny pasta shapes traditionally used in soups. If you’ve stumbled upon small pasta shapes like little stars, alphabet pasta, or even tiny tubes, in the grocery store, then you’ve encountered pastina.
These petite pasta pieces cook to al dente quickly (about 3-5 minutes), absorbing the flavors of the broth and creating a comforting, textural experience in every spoonful.
Brands like Barilla and De Cecco offer various types of pastina, such as “stelline“ (tiny stars) and “acini di pepe“ (small round shapes). Another popular choice is Ronzoni’s “Pastina,” which is small and star-shaped, making it a fun option for kids—or anyone who enjoys playful food.
Where This Recipe Comes From
This Simple Pastina Soup recipe has roots in my family’s Italian-American kitchen, where it was a staple comfort food. My grandma would make her own homemade chicken broth, letting chicken breast and bones simmer to create a rich base. My version offers the same classic taste but with plant-based ingredients, making it accessible for vegans and vegetarians alike.
I’m using Acini di Pepe in this particular recipe but growing up we would make this soup with tiny pasta stars. Feel free to use your favorite tiny pasta shape in the recipe below!
This recipe uses simple ingredients but because this soup only has a few components, it’s important that each one is high-quality. I recommend using a good-quality olive oil and vegan chicken-flavored bouillon cube for the best flavor.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The foundation of any great Italian dish.
- Onion and Garlic: Aromatics for the flavorful broth.
- Carrot and Celery: Vegetables aren’t traditional, and pastina soup can be made without them, but I opt to add them for more nutrition.
- Salt, Black Pepper, and Dried Thyme: The seasonings that add that extra flavor.
- Bay Leaves and Dry White Wine: Optional, but they offer a depth of flavor.
- Vegetarian ‘Chicken’ Flavored Bouillon Cube: Our plant-based substitute for homemade chicken broth. I used Edward and Son’s Non-Chicken Bouillon, but you could also use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Broth Base.
- Pastina Pasta: This tiny pasta makes the soup feel extra hearty.
- Fresh Parsley: This adds a bit of freshness when serving the soup.
Substitutions & Variations
Looking to switch things up? You can easily make this soup your own:
- Pastina Pasta: You can easily swap in alphabet pasta, orzo, ditalini, or acini di pepe.
- Dry White Wine: Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar can add an extra layer of flavor if you don’t want to use cooking wine. Use 2-3 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice to add some acidity. Adjust to taste!
- Vegetable Bouillon: You can use vegetable broth if you don’t have non-chicken bouillon on hand, or you can use homemade broth.
- Parsley: Feel free to swap in your favorite herbs instead.
- Large Pot or Dutch Oven: for cooking this Italian soup
- Cutting board & Chef’s knife: for prepping the veggies
Step By Step Instructions
STEP 1: In a large pot, add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Then, turn the stove to medium heat.
STEP 2: Once the oil’s nice and hot, toss in your diced onion, carrot, and celery. Cook these until they’re softened up, around 5 minutes.
STEP 3: Add in the garlic and give everything a good stir. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
STEP 4: Add your salt, pepper, thyme, and if you’re using it, a bay leaf. Stir so the seasonings coat the veggies.
STEP 5: If using, pour in the dry white wine and let it simmer down until about half is left. This should take roughly 3 minutes.
STEP 6: Crumble in the vegetable bouillon cube and pour in 4 cups of water. Stir until the cube dissolves and your soup reaches a gentle simmer.
STEP 7: Stir in the pastina pasta and cook until al dente, about 4-5 minutes. Then remove it from heat.
📌 TIP: If you’re planning on making this soup ahead of time, make the pastina in a separate pot. You can ladle the cooked pastina into bowls when ready to serve. The pasta will absorb the broth as it sits in it.
Once your pastina is cooked to al dente, it’s time to dish it up! This soup is best served immediately since the pastina will continue absorbing broth as it sits in the soup.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with dairy-free parmesan and some finely chopped parsley. For that extra touch, sprinkle a bit of fresh ground black pepper and perhaps a squeeze of lemon juice. You can also serve it with some a side salad, crusty bread or croutons.
Got leftovers? They’ll keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days.
Just make sure to store the pastina separately if you’re planning on reheating, so it doesn’t soak up all the broth and get mushy.
- If you’re making this soup ahead of time, consider cooking your pastina separately. That way, it won’t turn into mush.
- Want to make it fun for kids? Try using Barilla star pasta.
- For a richer flavor profile, consider adding a (vegan) parmesan rind or some shavings (I like Violife’s Just Like Parmesan Wedge) into the broth as it simmers.
Absolutely, but I’d recommend freezing without the pastina to maintain the best texture when you reheat.
Just follow the package instructions and drain when done. Store it separately and mix it into your soup when you’re ready to dive in!
Did you make this Italian pastina soup?
⭐️ I’d love to know! Leave a star rating and comment below! ⭐️
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion (115g) diced, about 2 cups
- 5 cloves garlic (15g), minced
- 1 large carrot (140g) peeled and diced, about 1 cup
- 2 celery stalks (115g) diced, about 1 cup
- ½ tsp salt, to taste
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp dried thyme, or 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf, optional
- ⅓ cup dry white wine, optional
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube + 4 cups water, or sub. 4 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup (120g) pastina pasta, or other small pasta (see notes)
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan, dairy free like Violife
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Ground black pepper
- In a large pot, add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and turn the stove to medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the diced onion, carrot, and celery to the pot. Cook until softened, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
- Add the salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
- If using, pour in the ⅓ cup of dry white wine, stir and let it simmer until about half has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable bouillon cube and 4 cups of water (or broth). Stir until the cube is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.
- Stir in the ½ cup of pastina pasta. If you prefer a thicker soup with lots of pasta, use up to ¾ cup pastina.
- Let simmer for 4-5 minutes until pasta is cooked. Remove from the heat when done. Serve with (dairy-free) parmesan, parsley, and fresh ground black pepper.
- Cook Pastina Separately (Optional): If making ahead of time, you can cook the pastina in a separate pot according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Vegetable Bouillon: For the best flavor, use a vegan & vegetarian chicken flavored bouillon like this one by Edward and Sons.
Notes on Pasta Choices:
- Orzo: This rice-shaped pasta is a great substitute and cooks quickly.
- Ditalini: These small tube-shaped pastas are another solid choice, offering a different texture.
- Acini di Pepe: Tiny round pasta that works well in soups. This is what is in the photos.
- Stelline: These are star-shaped pastas that can make the soup fun, especially for kids.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 355Carbohydrates: 48gFiber: 3g
Nutritional info is an estimate.
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