Chicken Soup with Pastina

  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Free-range chickens make superior stock. I also like the richness that turkey wings add to a chicken stock, so I use them all the time. You can save the chicken parts you need for stock over time. Keep them in a sealable bag or container in the freezer, or perhaps your butcher can sell you what you need. Remove the livers from the giblet bag before making stock--livers will add a bitter flavor.


3 pounds chicken and/or turkey wings, backs, necks, and giblets (not including the liver), preferably from free-range or organically raised birds
8quarts water
1large onion (about 1/2 pound), cut in half
3cups carrots, peeled and sliced 1-inch thick
3stalks celery, cut crosswise into 4 pieces
6cloves garlic, minced
6sprigs fresh Italian parsley
6whole black peppercorns
1tablespoon salt
Rind of Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (scraped and washed)
1/2 to 1cup pastina for 1 quart of cooked soup
Freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving


  1. Wash the chicken parts and/or turkey wings thoroughly under cold running water, and drain them well. Put them with the water in a large stockpot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium, and simmer for 1 hour. Skim off the surface foam and fat occasionally.
  2. Add to the pot all the remaining ingredients except the pastina and cheese for serving. Bring the pot to a boil again, occasionally skimming the fan and foam off the top. Lower the heat until the liquid is “perking”–one or two large bubbles rising to the surface at a time. Partially cover and cook for 2 hours, adding salt to taste, about 1 tablespoon in all. When the solids are cool, pick out the carrot pieces and bones from the pieces of meat. Set aside to be added to soup when served.
  3. Strain the soup through a fine strainer and/or cheese cloth.
  4. Let set and de-fat the soup.
  5. When ready to serve, bring one quart of soup or more to a boil. Add the pastina and bring to a boil, about 3 to 4 minutes, and taste the pastina for doneness. Add the carrots and chicken pieces if desired, and serve with grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Note: If you’d like to keep some soup for later, just freeze without the pastina for future use.

Kids Can: Clean the onion and garlic; pull celery stalks off; and strain the cool stock.

Reprinted with permission from Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Family Kitchen: Nonna’s Birthday Surprise (Running Press, 2013).