Pastina Chicken Soup with Kale

Healthy Italian-American comfort food made easy: chicken soup with pastina and greens.

Healthy Italian-American comfort food made easy: chicken soup with pastina and greens.

I adore this month’s Recipe ReDux theme:

First Cooking Recollections

Stir up some of your earliest culinary recollections. Did you stand at your grandmother’s elbow to learn to cook? Or did you learn by stumbling through a cookbook by yourself? Share a healthy recipe and the accompanying story about one of your first cooking memories.

I was lucky to have grown up with wonderful family cooks, namely my mom and two grandmothers. And without a doubt, being exposed to a lifetime of them working their skills in the kitchen has had a profound impact on me and is a big reason why I love the world of food so much.

My first cooking memory was of my mom letting me “experiment” in the kitchen. She’d put out a variety of baking ingredients and I could mix together whatever I liked. I remember LOVING the freedom that came with making my own creations, despite the fact they’d always end up being an inedible shortcake with the consistency of a hockey puck after baking.

Healthy comfort food in a bowl: Pastina Chicken Soup w. Kale via @tspbasil #thereciperedux Click To Tweet

But since we already have several shortcake recipes here on the blog, including these recent Strawberry Lemon Cornbread Shortcakes, I thought of my next cooking memory which was making pancakes every weekend —> which I already wrote about in this Everyday Whole Grain Pancake post.

I’ve also talked about cooking memories via One Pot Chicken with Olives + Mushrooms, Kale Stuffed Lasagna RollsKapusta (Braised Sauerkraut), and Cherry Chocolate Jubilee Jumbles.

So, I was actually stumped for a bit on what to make and then I remembered this soup.

Growing up at every holiday together, my nana would make her version of Italian Wedding Soup for the first course, which had pastina (tiny pasta), mini meatballs and escarole. If you were at the kids’ table, you got the “strained” version (aka no greens) by request, which we all requested. (Side note: if your kid doesn’t like a lot of vegetables now it doesn’t mean it will be forever – me and my sister are dark green veggie lovers now!)

Healthy Italian-American comfort food made easy: chicken soup with pastina and greens.

So, I came up with my own version of that soup. Rather than meatballs, I used shredded chicken (time saver) and used kale since I had it on hand and since escarole is not the “it” green….yet!

More healthy notes to this soup:
* The lower sodium chicken broth cuts down the sodium levels (which can be pretty high with soups)
* It’s a great way to use up leafy greens
* You can add/swap in so many different good-for-you ingredients:
—-> Make it vegetarian: use vegetable broth and swap in any kind of beans for the chicken
—-> Don’t like kale? Swap in spinach or broccoli
—-> Want more veggies? Add in a can of low sodium diced tomatoes
—-> Want a different grain? Substitute brown rice, quinoa, barley or farro for the pastina

Print

Pastina Chicken Soup with Kale

Healthy Italian-American comfort food made easy: chicken soup with pastina and greens.

Healthy Italian-American comfort food made easy: chicken soup with pastina and greens.

  • Author: by Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD
  • Yield: 6-8 servings. 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped finely
  • 3 cups packed chopped kale (ribs removed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound chicken breasts and/or thighs
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) uncooked acini de pepe (pastina)
  • Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, carrots and kale. Saute (stirrng often) for about 5 minutes or until kale is wilted. Stir in salt and pepper.
  2. Add chicken and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Turn to medium low, cover with lid and simmer for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken onto cutting board and cool for 10-15 minutes. Shred with forks.
  3. While chicken is cooling, bring broth back to a boil. Add pastina and reduce to medium heat. Stir occasionally (especially at beginning of process as pastina will stick to bottom of pan) and cook until pastina is cooked, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add shredded chicken and heat for another 5 minutes.
  5. Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Healthy Italian-American comfort food made easy: chicken soup with pastina and greens.

What’s one of your favorite cooking memories from childhood? What soup do you always eat or make this time of year?


Welcome!

We’re Serena & Deanna, two dietitians who love food as much as you do!  

We're also moms and business owners who share our family recipes, healthy kitchen hacks and nutrition adventures while keeping it real in the kitchen with you.

We’re so glad you’ve stopped by!

Hungry for More?

Don’t miss a single delicious, nutritious, food-lovers recipe! For exclusive Healthy Kitchen Hacks and incentives provided only to our subscribers, sign up here to receive our weekly e-newsletter.