Chicken Pastina Soup Recipe

A bowl of tiny star pasta with chicken.

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This chicken pastina soup recipes combines tiny pasta and tender chicken thighs in a flavorful broth. Parmesan cheese and egg are optional to add an extra-creamy consistency.

For a very thick soup, add only 4 cups of broth. For soup with more broth in it, add 6 cups of broth. 


Units Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2/3 cup pastina (small pasta, such as stars, ditalini or acini de pepe)
  • Optional - finely grated parmesan


  • 1 egg, whisked
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for color


  1. In a wide soup pot or Dutch oven, warm the oil/butter over medium heat. 
  2. Saute the onion, celery and carrot until soft, about 8 minutes. Don’t rush this step - it’s important that the onion, carrot and celery are soft so that you don’t have crunchy veggies in the soup. Turn the heat down to low if necessary to keep the veggies from browning too much. 
  3. Push the veggies to the side and add the chicken. Brown the chicken thighs on one side, about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add the broth and bring to a gentle simmer. Use a spatula to loosen the chicken and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. 
  5. When the broth is simmering, reduce heat to medium-low (on my gas stove, I turn it all the way down to low). Cover the pot with a lid. Simmer very gently for 15 minutes. Check the water to make sure it’s gently bubbling and not rapidly boiling. Rapidly boiling the chicken will make the meat tough. 
  6. Take the chicken out (test the temp - should be 165F or higher) and let the chicken rest on a plate or cutting board for 10 minutes before shredding. Taste the chicken and season lightly with salt if needed. 
  7. While the chicken rests, add the pasta to the broth. Simmer for 8 minutes without a lid, until the pasta is tender and has absorbed much of the broth, giving the soup a thick consistency. This usually takes 8 minutes, but the time can vary depending on the pasta types. Stir frequently to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. 
  8. Add the shredded chicken back to the pot and serve immediately. Top each bowl with parmesan if you like.  Taste and add black pepper and salt as needed. 

Optional thickening with an egg: Take ¼ cup of the hot broth out of the pot and very slowly whisk the hot liquid into the egg. This slowly heats the egg so it doesn’t scramble when added to the pot. Then pour the egg very, very slowly into the soup pot (no more than a tablespoon at a time) whisking the entire time. You want the egg to thicken the broth, not turn into scrambled egg. Adding an egg will make the broth richer and slightly thicker. 


If you want pastina that has more broth and isn't as thick and porridge-like, then cook the pasta separately in a pot of boiling water.  Serve the pasta separately and everyone can add their own cooked pasta to their bowl of broth and chicken. 

If you prefer white meat you can use chicken breasts instead of thighs. Chicken breasts vary in size so it might take a little longer than 15 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 165F. Just like thighs, let the meat rest for 10 minutes or more before shredding the meat. 

For a short-cut, use rotisserie chicken. You can add the cooked chicken to the pot after the pasta cooks. 

Leftovers will stay fresh for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. The consistency will get really thick as the pasta continues to absorb the broth.