Welcome to Pastina....the ultimate Italian comfort food. Whether you need a cozy meal or feeling under the weather, this recipe takes less than 10 minutes to make and always hits the spot!
If you haven't had Pastina before, you're in for a treat! It's the ultimate Italian comfort food especially if you are sick or feeling under the weather. Pastina translates in Italian to “little pasta”. They are quite tiny pasta pieces ranging from all different shapes. It's usually cooked in a simple broth (brodo) which takes less than 10 minutes to make.
I first had Pastina when my Italian mother in law made it for me when I was terribly sick. I instantly felt better, it was a magic soup! My husband grew up eating Pastina throughout his childhood from his Nonna and mother, so it has now become a tradition in our home too.
You can also use it to make pastina soup (pastina in brodo), minestrone or pasta e fagioli, baby food and sometimes in salads and desserts.
Kids from all regions of Italy have eaten this growing up, making it one of the most nostalgic dishes. It's known to soothe all illnesses which is why it has a nickname of Italian medicine or Italian penicillin.
It recently became so popular after going viral across social media and Tikok making supermarkets sell out of pastina! Thankfully, there is a huge selection of pastina in the supermarkets here in Italy, I love it here 🙂
Table of Contents
Why you'll love this recipe
- Quick and Easy. This pastina recipe is a lifesaver for busy days as its effortless taking less than 10 minutes to make
- Nourishing. With wholesome ingredients like pasta, vegetables, broth, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, this dish is hearty, healthy and full of flavor
- Versatile. Whether you need a cozy pick-me-up when you’re feeling sick or a soothing dinner, pastina is a versatile dish that always hits the spot like a warm hug
- Kid-Friendly. Kids absolutely adore the pastina pasta shapes as they’re cute and fun making kids want to eat it
What is Pastina?
Pastina translates in Italian to “little pasta”. They are very tiny pasta pieces that range in many different cute shapes. Some of the most popular types of pastina are Stelline (little stars), Ditalini, Annellini, Fregola Sarda, Acini de Pepe and Orzo or Risoni. The list goes on, especially here in Italy where we are spoiled for choice 🙂
Pastina is a symbol of comfort food in Italy, especially served when someone is unwell. It's used to make cozy simple dishes such as being cooked in a light broth called “brodo” in Italian, along with being added to soups, baby food and salads. Children grow up eating pastina because of its simplicity and cute shapes making it fun to eat.
Ingredients to make Pastina Italian Comfort Food
- Pastina is the star of the show of course! It translates to small pasta which come in various different shapes. The pastina is cooked in a simple broth (brodo) and usually takes between 5-8 minutes to cook. In this recipe I’ve used stelline pastina which are tiny star-shaped pasta
- Vegetable broth is my preferred broth to use. You can either use a homemade broth or store bought. I always ensure to use a good-quality organic vegetable broth. You can also substitute with chicken broth to make an Italian version of chicken noodle soup. Beef or other broths can also be used
- Parmigiano reggiano (parmesan cheese) adds a cheesy richness which also gives the broth a slightly creamy texture. Pecorino Romano can also be used. To make it a vegan pastina, substitute with a plant based parmesan or also nutritional yeast
- Extra virgin olive oil. I love to add a drizzle of olive oil right before serving which enhances the taste and rich goodness. In some regions, usually northern Italy, butter can also be added whilst cooking the pastina. I personally don't like to add butter and always opt for olive oil
- Black pepper. I love adding freshly cracked black pepper to my pastina. It's totally optional but the flavor works so well with the cheesiness. You can leave this out if serving to kids
- * Optional additions. You can of course add extra ingredients to this pastina recipe. This ranges from other spices, tiny diced vegetables such as carrots, celery, broccoli and even onions or garlic. Its also very common to add an egg to pastina right at the end of the cooking process before serving
How to make Pastina
Learn how to make Pastina in just 10 minutes, this classic Italian comfort food never fails. Here are my easy to follow steps.
- In a small pot, add vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat with the lid on
- Add the pastina and stir through. Cook until al dente (refer package instructions) and stir occasionally to prevent clumps
- Once pasta is cooked, turn off the heat and add finely grated parmesan cheese. Continuously stir for 1-2 minutes to thicken the broth and create a creamy consistency
- Serve in bowls and garnish with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
- Keep a close eye on the Pastina as it cooks very quickly and can get mushy if it's overcooked
- I always prefer to buy a block of parmesan cheese and grate it myself. Trust me it tastes so much better than pre-grated cheese! Ensure to finely grate the parmesan cheese. This way it wont get clumpy
- If using store bought broth, make sure to buy a good quality brand. As there are minimal ingredients, the better the quality of them, the better the taste of the final pastina dish
- If you prefer to make it into a soup, check out my pastina soup
- Optionally you can add some veggies such as carrots, celery or broccoli for added nutrition
Storage, Reheating and Freezing
- Store any leftover pastina in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days
- It's best to reheat pastina in a small saucepan with a good splash of water or broth. This will ensure it doesn't become clumpy and will keep its creamy consistency. Place on medium heat for a few minutes with the lid on.
- To reheat the pastina in the microwave. Add a splash of liquid (water/broth) to the bowl and reheat for a few minutes until heated through
- I wouldn't recommend freezing this pastina recipe. Whilst technically you can freeze it, the texture won't be as yummy when thawed and heated
Yes indeed! Made with wholesome ingredients like pasta, vegetables, broth, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, this dish is both hearty, healthy and soothing
Yes! Orzo also known as Risoni, is a small rice shaped type of pasta which is considered pastina. With lots of supermarkets selling out of the more popular shapes such as stelline which is the tiny star shaped pasta, orzo is a great choice
Ensure to continuously stir the pastina every now and then while it's being boiled in the broth. The drizzle of olive oil upon serving will also give it the extra luscious consistency and prevent sticking
Most supermarkets sell pastina in the pasta aisle. You can also usually find a large range of pastina products and shapes in Italian supermakets and grocers
More Soup Recipes
- Pasta e Fagioli
- Tuscan White Bean Soup
- Veggie Noodle Soup
- Creamy Pumpkin Soup
- Shiitake and Dumpling Soup
- Zucchini Leek Soup
- Thai Red Curry Soup
More Italian Recipes
- No Knead Focaccia
- Pasta with Peas
- Spinach Lasagna
- Burrata Pasta
- Italian Hot Chocolate
- Mushroom and Pea Risotto
- Limoncello Spritz
- Broccoli Pasta
- Saffron Risotto
I love seeing your creations and remakes, so be sure to rate the recipe, comment and share your Pastina - Italian Comfort Food photo on Instagram so I can share the love!
Pastina - Italian Comfort Food (Ready in 8 minutes)
- ¾ cup pastina (120 grams / 4 oz) - I’ve used stelline pastina
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese (ensure it's finely grated)
- Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Extra grated parmesan cheese
- Black pepper
- In a small pot or saucepan pour in the vegetable broth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over a medium-high heat with the lid on and bring to a boil
- Once boiling, add the pastina and stir through the broth. Continue to stir it every now and then so it doesn’t clump, and cook until al dente (according to package instructions)Pastina typically takes between 5-8 minutes to cook
- Taste the pastina and once it’s cooked, turn off the heat and add in the finely grated parmesan cheese. Continuously stir it through the pastina for 1-2 minutes to thicken the broth and create a creamy consistency
- Serve in bowls with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Garnish if desired with extra parmesan cheese and black pepper and enjoy your yummy bowl of Italian Pastina!