I love making this Chicken Lemon Pastina Soup for quick dinners in late Fall or Winter. My secret ingredient to speeding up the process is using store bought rotisserie chicken. Add healthy, fresh ingredients to shredded chicken and chicken broth and thicken the soup with some pastina, and you got yourself a hearty bowl of chicken soup:)).
What is Pastina?
Pastina is a small, tiny actually type of pasta. In Italian you add -one to the words to show that something is bigger and -ina to show a smaller size. So if you put together pasta and ina, it makes the word pastina or small pasta.
When I lived in Albania, we had many different Italian products called pastina. They were all small pastas of different shapes. However, here in Florida, pastina is only one type of pasta in the markets around me. Maybe a specialty market might have more options.
Whichever shape you find pastina in, it’s always small and made with wheat flour. If you are familiar with orzo pasta (the rice shaped pasta), pastina is even smaller than that.
You can make this soup from scratch. Cook a chicken your favorite way. Use leftover carcass to make the chicken broth and get the shredded chicken.
However, for this recipe I want to make sure I emphasize that I used store bought rotisserie chicken. I am a busy mom, I have two kids with lots of after school activities and homework. I love to cook and feed them home cooked meals everyday but sometimes I have to compromise. So one of my compromises is using rotisserie chicken.
- Use rotisserie chicken on taco night or serve rotisserie chicken with rice and salad on a night you can’t cook.
- Store the leftover carcass in a ziplock bag or airtight container. Boil in 6 cups of water (either with veggies or without).
- Let the chicken and broth cool down. Strain the broth in a separate container. Then shred the remaining chicken. You’ll be surprised how much chicken you can get.
- You can freeze the chicken broth for use later on.
- Usually I get about 4 cups of chicken broth and 1.5-2 cups of shredded chicken out of the leftovers of 1 rotisserie chicken. This is perfect for my family of 4. If you have a bigger family, consider making the broth when you leftovers from 2 rotisserie chickens.
I used a regular soup pot over stovetop for this soup. So instructions in the recipe card below reflect that.
Instant Pot – you can use a pressure cooker or instant pot to make the broth faster if you prefer this method. However, for the soup I’d still use the regular pot since you’ll add ingredients slowly and pasta at the end cooks in less than 10 minutes. So just the pressurizing and releasing pressure are not worth it for that part of the cooking.
Slow Cooker – I would use the slow cooker for making the broth especially if you are adding lots of veggies and scraps to it. Set it on low and leave it cooking for hours. Then follow the steps for straining the broth and shredding the chicken once cool to handle. I’d still at that point use the stove top but if you prefer the slow cooker, feel free to adapt the recipe to that.
Tips and Notes plus Substituions
Here are some additional tips for this recipe.
- Feel free to use leftover turkey after Thanksgiving like I did in this Orzo Turkey Soup. The pastina soup would taste great with turkey too.
- Feel free to add spinach towards the last 2-3 minutes of the soup cooking. It will add some greens and more nutrients to the soup.
- If you don’t have pastina you can cook same soup with orzo, alphabet pasta, even rice.
- This soup doesn’t have any eggs, but if you like the egg/lemon taste in broth take a look at a similar recipe that uses rice: Chicken Rice Soup with Lemon and Eggs.
- You can use any roasted chicken to make this soup. For example if you’re roasting lots of chicken for the week, add some more and use the leftovers to make the broth and get the shredded chicken that way. Find ways to save time and overlap cooking times whenever you can.
Chicken Lemon Pastina Soup
- 1 Medium size pot
- 1 Ladle
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 rotisserie chicken leftovers
- 10 ozs pastina
- 1 yellow onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 lemon
- 3 carrots
- 3 celery ribs
- 1 fennel stalk
- 2 tbsps olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 0.5 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 0.5 tsp thyme
- 1 cup fresh parsley, divided 2 tbsps of that will be used for garnish, but the rest in the soup.
- Add rotisserie chicken leftovers to a pot with 5 cups with water, bring to boil then lower heat to medium. Let cook for about 25-30 minutes. Strain the stock and add it to a pyrex container. Once chicken is cool to touch, then remove with pieces of chicken and set aside as well. I usually get about 2 cups of shredded chicken but this might vary by family and where you buy your rotisserie chicken. You can freeze leftover rotisserie chicken until you have 2 of them if you think you'll need more.
- While rotisserie chicken leftovers are cooking, clean, peel and dice carrots, celery and fennel stalk. If you can buy carrots sticks and celery ribs already clean, it will save you some time prepping. Peel and mince garlic set aside. Dice onion.Squeeze half a lemon, set the juice aside. Chop all the parsley, divide 2 tbsps of the chopped parsley for garnishing later.
- Add olive oil to soup pot. Saute onion and garlic until aromatic and translucent. Add carrots, celery and fennel. Stirr with a wooden spoon until all the vegetables are soft.
- Add tomato paste right in the middle and mix the vegetables with it slowly as the color and aroma start releasing as the paste warms up.
- Add shredded chicken, chicken stock and all the herbs and seasonings. Plus salt and pepper. Once the soup is boiling, lower heat. Add lemon juice and maybe few slices of lemon to the soup. Add chopped parsley.
- Finally add pastina. Towards the 5 minutes mark, turn heat off, cover the soup pot and let finish cooking while you set up the table. Serve with your favorite bread or salad.
- This soup makes 6 full servings, but if you have kids or just serve a cup instead of a bowl, you’ll definitely have plenty of leftovers.
- Recipe uses leftovers of a rotisserie chicken, but if you want to roast a chicken specifically for this soup, then use 2 cups shredded chicken and 4 cups chicken stock.
- Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- Calories and nutrition values are an estimate since it’s hard to calculate the details of a rotisserie chicken leftovers.
Pastina is usually made with wheat flour and eggs. It’s a tiny pasta, even smaller than orzo.
I usually add pastina to the soup the last 5 minutes of cooking. At the end of the 5 minutes, I turn heat off but the soup and pastina will continue slowly cooking for few more minutes since the pot is hot. So the pasta will finish cooking slowly as you set up the table.
Soup usually will get thicker as it stands especially after being refrigerated. Usually I add the soup to a pot and add some water, let it simmer and mix it. Adjust water to achieve the consistency you’d like. Then check for salt and flavor and adjust as needed as well before serving.
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More Soup Recipes
I have plenty of soup recipes to share with you:). Feel free to check any of them out! Thank you for reading my blog.
- Leeks, Potatoes and Butternut Squash Soup
- Red Lentils Soup
- Black Eyed Peas Soup with Pancetta
- Mediterranean Lentils Soup