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Italian Penicillin Soup: The Ultimate Comfort Food

When winter’s chill sets in, and your immune system needs a boost, nothing warms the soul like a bowl of Italian penicillin soup.

This pastina soup recipe is one of my favorite Italian comfort foods and a staple in many Italian households, although every family has its own recipe.

Italian Penicillin

Why You’ll Love This Easy Pastina Soup

These are why I love this comforting soup, and I’m sure they will also become yours.

Comfort in a Bowl: With c broth, tomatoes, and tiny pastina pasta, every sip is a warm hug.

Quick and Easy – This soup comes together fast, in just 30 minutes, with minimal prep.

Family-Friendly – Kids and adults alike will enjoy this. Even the picky eater will love this pastina, 

Budget Friendly – Made with pantry staples and inexpensive ingredients, it will stay on the bank.

Easy to Customize – Add veggies like kale, carrots, or zucchini.

Also, try different pasta shapes and broth.

What is Italian Pastina?

Pastina, by dictionary definition, is a tiny pasta shape with a diameter of about 1.6 millimeters. In Italy, we have many different types of pasta.

The most popular types of pasta are little stars, alphabet pasta, or risoni, aka orzo.

These just mentioned are the best-known ones.

photo of pastina shape

Why Does Pastina Make You Feel Better?

In Italy, we consider it our “Italian penicillin”. 

Especially if you have a sore throat, pasta is perfect; hot and small, it is easier to eat.


This pastina in broth recipe is the one my mom used to make for me.

These are the main ingredients you need for this recipe:

Pastina: I used the “orzo” shape. You can use the one you like best, like tiny pasta stars. 

Broth: Choose the broth of choice.

You can use either homemade chicken broth or vegetables; store-bought chicken broth (or vegetable) is also fine.

You can also add chicken or vegetable vegetable Bouillon to the water once it boils. This will be the liquid where the pastina will cook.

Tomato: I used cherry tomatoes because they have a sweeter flavor. 

 If you prefer your soup without a hint of tomato, simply skip it.

Parmesan cheese: Parmigiano can’t be missed in this classic Italian dish.

It melds into the broth, imparting a salty, deep flavor to the pastina.

Extra virgin olive oil: Finally, a good drizzle of olive oil at the end of cooking adds a fruity note. 

Salt and black pepper to taste.

How to make Pastina Soup – Step by Step Instructions

Step 1 (optional)

Make bone broth (chicken bones or meat bones) at home. You can skip this step if you use ready-made broth or stock cube.

Step 2

First, bring the broth to a boil at high heat. 

While it heats up, prepare the cherry tomatoes by peeling them.

It’s an easy process – just heat up some water in a kettle, transfer it to a bowl, and wash the cherry tomatoes.

Next, make a small X-shaped incision at the bottom of each tomato and place them in the hot water for around two minutes. The skin will come off quickly after this.

broth ingredient for pastina soup
cherry tomato for pastina soup

Step 3

Once the cherry tomatoes are peeled, I dice them into small pieces and add them to the broth. Once the broth starts boiling, add the pasta and cook it for the time recommended on the package.

Stir often to prevent sticking, and add more broth if it gets too dry. 

Step 4

Once the pastina is fully cooked, turn off the stove, mix in grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of oil, and stir well.

Garnish the soup with fresh herbs such as parsley or basil before serving to add a pop of color and flavor.

pastina soup recipe in a spoon

Pro tips

  • Use homemade broth; it will give the pastina more flavor.
  • The right proportion of broth to pasta: The basic rule is 40 grams of pasta to 250 ml of broth.
  • If you have leftover parmesan rind, don’t throw it away; add it while cooking the pastina.
  • It’s best to cook only the pastina soup you plan to consume immediately. 

Substitutes and Variations

Add chicken: This is a great idea for using leftover rotisserie chicken. It will give an extra flavor to your pastina.

Add more vegetables: Potatoes, celery, carrots, onions, and zucchini. You can add the vegetables you like best. 

Let them cook in the broth; you can add the pastina when they have softened.

For a super creamy dish, you can also blend the vegetables before adding the pastina.

Add egg: Egg pastina is a classic.

Start by using vegetable broth and pastina. Once the soup is ready and hot, crack an egg directly into the pot and beat it with a fork until it becomes solid.

Finish off the dish with some grated cheese.

Fish pastina: To prepare this dish, start by creating a flavorful fish stock using shrimp, prawns, and clams without removing the shells.

Add some pink pepper and thinly sliced leek to the stock. Once the base is ready, strain it and add the fish and pastina.


Refrigerated: You can store it in an airtight container for 3 days.

Freeze: I do not recommend freezing the cooked pastina; it is a simple preparation with just a few steps and ingredients. 

If you freeze the pastina, it may have that mushy effect that no one likes.


Who eats pastina?

Pastina is often considered one of the first foods for babies and young children due to its soft, small-sized pasta shapes that are easy to eat and digest.

However, it’s also a dish loved by adults and commonly enjoyed as comfort food.

What’s the Difference Between Orzo and Pastina?

Orzo is a type of pasta that has an elongated, rice-like shape.

It is one of the many pasta shapes that fall under the category of pastina, which refers to small pasta shapes.

What Types Of Pasta Can I Substitute The Pastina With?

 If you don’t have pastina, you can easily substitute it with broken spaghetti pieces to achieve a similar result.

Simply break the spaghetti into small pieces and use them in the same way as pastina.

Do you have to drain pastina?

It depends on the preparation. For preparing soups with the pastina, the pastina should not be drained.

Pastina is also used to prepare salads if you have to drain it. 

Italian Pastina Soup Recipe


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Yield: 2 serving

Italian penicillin soup

italian pastina soup

A Simple Pastina Soup Recipe that will warm you up on any colder day!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 6 cups Broth
  • 1.5 cups Pastina pasta (small pasta shapes)
  • 6 Cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped parsley ( optional)


  1. Bring the broth of choice to boil at high heat in a large pot.
  2. Wash the cherry tomatoes and make an X-shaped incision at the bottom. Heat some water in the kettle. Transfer hot water to a bowl and soak cherry tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Using a knife, remove the skin from the cherry tomatoes.
  4. Add the chopped cherry tomatoes to the broth.
  5. When the broth is boiling, add the pastina. Cook at medium heat and follow the cooking times given in the package.
  6. When the pasta is ready, turn off the heat add Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of oil, and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  7. Also, add a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and some salt, if any is needed.
  8. Serve this soul-warming soup piping hot in a soup bowl.


To make an even tastier pasta in broth, add fresh herbs like parsley, basil or bay leaf.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 541Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 1426mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 4gSugar: 14gProtein: 29g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Sage Scott

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

I made this easy soup using homemade chicken broth that I had in my freezer. It hit the spot on a cold and snowy day!


Monday 22nd of January 2024

This reminds me of my grandma's soup! It's so good especially when we are feeling under the weather!


Monday 22nd of January 2024

I made this as four of the five kids have been sick for a few days and I am exhausted. It was just the perfect dish for them! It was delicious and warming. I used pasta stars and it was exactly what we all needed

I had some homemade chicken broth in the freezer so we used that and it made for such a great lunch.


Tuesday 4th of April 2023

I have eaten pastina all my life 72years. I love it and so does my family. Orzo or Pastina.

Giacomina Carr

Saturday 25th of February 2023

I think it’s a favourite with all Italian children

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