There’s this special woman who lives in my heart. Her strength and wisdom are my inspiration every day. She was my Grandmother. She was my second mom. She was a native New Yorker married to a Southern gentlemen. The words “damn yankee” floated around the kitchen table quiet a few times when I was a child. I had no clue what those words meant, but looking back, it’s quite hilarious. We all have childhood memories that stand out more than others, but the cooking, the food, is something you never forget. One of the foods I will never forget is my Grandmother’s pastina soup. It was simple, but my absolute favorite. Chicken broth, carrots, and little stars. Lots and lots of tiny, little stars. Comfort to the soul.
I haven’t had that soup in over ten years. Haven’t even thought of making it till now. October is breast cancer awareness month and thought it was the perfect time to make this soup as a tribute to her and her fight. It’s not the same version by no means. Just simply inspired by my Grandmother.
Why lemon? Two reasons. It adds a brightness to the soup, and it’s a flavor that reminds me of a Greek soup that I grew up with. You can always omit the lemon to keep it more on the classic side.
Leeks are milder than onion which really works in this soup. Parsnips add a texture similar to potatoes, but without the starch.
I roasted one boneless and skinless chicken breast with olive oil and salt and pepper.
A little bit of pastina goes a long way. These tiny stars are great for this soup because they take no time to cook and don’t get very starchy in the broth.
All you need is a little salt and pepper and a handful of crackers. Yeah I like my crackers all soggy in the broth. Chicken soup for the soul.
Lemony Chicken Pastina Soup
loosely adapted from Giada at Home
For classic chicken soup, omit the lemon.
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
juice of 2 lemons
1 bay leaf
1 small leek, white and light green parts only, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium parsnip, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1/3 cup pastina
2 cups diced cooked chicken breast (see note below)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh or dried dill for garnish
Using a large stockpot, add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the leek, carrot, parsnip, and celery. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Add the pastina and give it a quick stir. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until pastina is tender. Add the chicken. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, until chicken is warmed through. Discard the bay leaf. Season the soup with salt to taste. Garnish with dill. Ladle into bowls and serve.
Note: To cook the chicken, drizzle 1 chicken breast with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a 350 degree oven 35 to 40 minutes until cooked through.