Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pastina Soup: Simple Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

Some weeks you just need a really simple soup, something warming, comforting and satisfying, that calls to the inner child in all of us. I have been saving Giada's Pastina Soup recipe from Happy Cooking for one of those times. This weekend has been on-and-off rainy and a bit blustery so a good, not-to-heavy, homey soup seemed perfect.

Giada says that the "final 'soup' is a cross between a risotto and a very thick stew" since the tiny pasta soaks up all of the flavor and liquid when they cook. Sadly, although I see it on the shelves almost all of the time, there were no tiny pasta stars or other fun tiny shapes to be found at the store this week so I ended up using acini di pepe instead. I also used my Parmesan and Garlic Brodo from the freezer as the stock.

Pastina Soup
Slightly Adapted from Happy Cooking by Giada De Laurentiis 
(Serves 4)

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 shallots, minced
3 sprigs thyme
sea salt
1 (2-inch) piece parmesan cheese rind
1 quart chicken or veggie stock (homemade or low-sodium)
1 1/4 cups star-shaped pastina or other small pasta
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, celery, carrot and shallots and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes, or until softened.

Add the thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the parmesan rind, stock and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the pasta and stir with a wooden spoon to prevent it from sticking to the pan. Return to a simmer and cook 8 to 10 minutes more, or until the pasta is cooked and the liquid is slightly thickened.

Remove the thyme sprigs and parmesan rind. Stir in the peas. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with grated parmesan and lemon zest, if desired.

Notes/Results: Just a simple, comforting bowl of soupy pasta goodness and exactly what I was craving this weekend. As mentioned, I used my garlic and Parmigiano Reggiano broth, which along with the thyme and the extra Parmesan rind tucked into the soup, provided plenty of flavor. I would suggest a good broth since this is such a simple soup and the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and lemon zest on top are a nice touch. If you wanted to make a vegan version, I'd recommend using a good veggie broth and stirring in a bit of miso and nutritional yeast to give it that touch of umami the cheese provides. Although pasta stars would have been fun, the tiny spheres acini di pepe (the pasta often used in Italian Wedding Soup), worked well and gave great texture. As Giada stated, this is a very stewy, risotto-like soup so if you want more broth, reduce the pasta to 3/4 cup and/or add more stock. I would happily make it again.

I'm linking this post up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it's Potluck week--our opportunity to make any recipe from the current IHCC featured chef Heidi Swanson, or any previous IHCC chef. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

We have some good friends in the Souper Sundays kitchen who shared some delicious dishes last week--let's have a look!

Vicki of I'd Rather Be At The Beach shared 10 Can Chili and said, "We love chili. I make it throughout the year, whether it’s cold or hot outside. I always use a recipe Henry and I came up with many years ago. But this time I used one I saw @ Around My Family Table. ... This is a cheap, quick way to make a pot of chili. I loved that it has cumin, I love cumin!"

Ali of Fix Me a Little Lunch made Black Garlic Tomato Soup and said, "Black garlic has a subtle flavor – somewhere between garlic and licorice.  I decided to experiment and try it out in a tomato soup, which ended up being the perfect use.  The soup is very easy to make – it takes just a few ingredients and about thirty minutes to cook.  The best part – it freezes easily, making it a perfect lunch meal!"

Denise of Soup Spice Everything Nice shared two soups this week. First is her Chicken Cacciatore Soup. She said, "I was really craving spicy tomato flavors and mushrooms. This soup really hit the spot. It is loaded with veggies like peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes. The broth is rich with Italian tomato flavor and has a nice spoonable texture. It was really deliciously savory.

Denise also shared Moussaka Soup and said, "I got the idea to adapt my Spicy Beef Vegetable Soup into a soup with Greek flavors. Moussaka has beef and vegetables and seemed the perfect candidate to turn into a soup. This soup is loaded with roasted veggies and Greek flavor. I substituted roasted eggplant, zucchini, squash and red bell pepper for the mixed veggies. I also for went the pasta sauce for can tomatoes I could spice with Greek flavors.

Debra of Eliot's Eats recreated a Vegetarian Green Chili Chowder with Goat Cheese that she enjoyed on a trip to Taos and said, "Because that inspirational first bowl from Eske’s was a smooth concoction, I decided to entitle my recipe as a chowder. ... While this was delicious, it was not the vivid green that I remember having in Taos.   Some of my “green chiles” were actually red, so I assume that is the reason.  Taste wise, though, it was spot on.  Or, at least what I remember. Another trip is definitely needed!!!!!"

And we have a bright seasonal salad from Shaheen at Allotment2Kitchen, she said, "This Beetroot Barley Goats Cheese Salad is an autumnal salad because of the hearty barley and the colours that remind me of the drying leaves on the trees. It's perfect for taking into lunch as it won't leak liked those tossed in heavy salad dressing. The goats cheese is optional, but I think it works as it makes a nice contrast to the earthy beetroot.


Mahalo to everyone who joined in this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional). 

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I love Giada's pastina soup. Something about those peas and carrots appeal to the inner child for sure. The stars are fun but the acini looks really nice too. This is one of those recipes that really shine with a good homemade broth. Great way to use your parmesan and garlic brodo.

  2. My mother used to make pastina soup when I was little-It truly is a real comfort soup. Looks delicious

  3. I've never had pastina soup, it looks good!

  4. Your Pastina soup looks delicious and fun, thick soups from a spoon are just right for those movie nights during our rainy weather.

  5. A cross between risotto and stew is so comforting. Now I get another good idea for comfort food.

  6. I have never heard of pastina soup so thanks for that. And thank you for hosting again, I am joining in once again - def. soup season

  7. I'm copying that recipe, Deb, that looks fantastic. I linked up, you had me motivated to come back to the blogging world with a lush salad :-)

  8. I somehow missed that you restarted this, Deb... I have been out of the blogging loop for a while, so sorry about that! Shared a soup this week though. :)


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