Vegan Italian Penicillin Soup (Italian Pastina Soup)! The secret to delicious broth? A medley of veggies, herbs, and a hint of vegan parm – *chef’s kiss*
Cozy and nourishing, this Vegan Italian Penicillin Soup (also called Italian Pastina Soup) is a soothing soup for the soul with its healthy feel-good ingredients and filling pasta. The veggies are blended into the broth making it perfect for those picky eaters who aren’t all-in when it comes to veggies or texture. Your family will want this delicious soup on repeat.
Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients and gluten free.
Hi there, Ameera here!
Perfect 10s all the way round from everyone in our family, including Yasmeen. She loved the tiny pasta and was tipping her bowl to the sky to get every drop of the broth.
Definitely will appear in our year-end round-up of our favorite recipes from 2023. Hint, the Vegan Parmesan Cheese perfectly round out the flavors!
You gotta give this one a try!
Tips for Success:
- Flavor Profile: This recipe is a Whole Food Plant Based nod to Italian Pastina Soup which is also called Italian Penicillin Soup. The traditional version is made with chicken stock, simple ingredients, tiny pasta, and a hefty amount of Parmesan Cheese. Our version is flavorful and delicious. Additionally, when serving, it is traditional to cook the pasta separately, then ladle a very generous portion of cooked tiny pasta into the bottom of a soup bowl, then ladle some soup broth over top and sprinkle generously with Parmesan Cheese.
- Penicillin Soup: It is the Italian version of Chicken Noodle Soup but using only soup broth and tiny pasta. Just like folks eat Chicken Noodle Soup when they are ill, Italians make Pastina Soup when they are not feeling well.
- Pasta: The traditional Italian soup typically uses Acini di Pepe pasta, but you can use any small pasta like orzo, little stars, couscous, etc. Make extra to store in the fridge. See note below on From Fridge to Table. Additionally, gluten free pasta works well in this soup. We used gluten-free orzo pasta. We also made some Acini di Pepe pasta (for Dad) which is not gluten free.
- Soup to Pasta Ratio: This soup is heavy on the pasta with just enough broth to make it a soup.
- Blending the Veggies: For the smoothest results, use a high-speed blender, but you can also use a food processor or immersion blender. Important Note: Do not blend the bay leaves if using an immersion blender, remove them, then add them back in after blending. Also, when scooping out the soft veggies into the high-speed blender or food processor, fish out the bay leaves to ensure you don’t accidently add them to the blender. Place them back in after you have blended the soft veggies.
- Added Spice/Herb Ingredients: These herbs are added after the blending to ensure they are not blended into the veggies. This helps prevent a tinge of bitterness that sometimes results from over blending dried herbs.
- Miso: While the miso is optional, we do highly recommend it as it lends a savory element to the soup.
- Poultry Seasoning: The poultry seasoning really adds those flavors most associated with chicken broth, but without the chicken. It really adds a lot of dimension and flavor. You can make your own poultry seasoning. We used a store-bought poultry seasoning.
- Italian Seasoning: We used store-bought Italian Seasoning. It rounds out the flavors nicely. You can make your own Italian Seasoning if you wish.
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese: The traditional soup typically uses a hefty amount of Parmesan Cheese. We felt that it really makes the soup. We used our recipe for Vegan Parmesan Cheese; however, feel free to use your favorite recipe.
- Keeping the Pasta separate from the Soup: Pasta is thirsty. It will soak up a lot of liquids and make for a less brothy soup. Additionally, if using a gluten-free pasta, it really tends to get mushy. That is why we suggest cooking the pasta separately and placing it in your soup bowl, then ladle the hot soup over top. This is how most restaurants serve soups that have pasta in them. They keep the broth and pasta separated until ready to serve. This is also how this soup is traditionally served in Italy.
- From Refrigerator to Table: This soup is excellent for meal preps. Simply store the pasta separately from the broth. Take a portion of refrigerated pasta and put it in a fine sieve strainer, run it under hot tap water, shake well to remove any excess water, then place the pasta in your soup bowl. Ladle the soup broth over top and microwave until hot and serve with a generous sprinkle of Vegan Parmesan Cheese. If you do not want to use the microwave, simply follow the same instructions about the pasta, but place the broth in a small stock pot, heat until boiling, then ladle the hot soup over top of the pasta and serve with a generous sprinkle of Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
Leftovers and Freezing:
Leftovers will generally keep 5 days in the refrigerator. Store in a covered container.
The soup broth can be frozen.
- Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
- Dried Thyme Crushed Leaves: We use Penzeys French Thyme. It has amazing flavor. If you can’t find dried crushed thyme leaves, you can use ground thyme, but use half the amount.
- Miso: We used Miso Master Organic Mellow White Premium Lite Miso, Certified Gluten Free. Miso really lends itself to balancing flavors when you don’t use oil. You can also use chickpea miso for a soy free version.
- Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
- Large stock pot with lid
- High-speed blender, food processor or immersion blender
Cozy and nourishing, this Vegan Italian Penicillin Soup (also called Italian Pastina Soup) is a soothing soup for the soul with its healthy feel-good ingredients.
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth *
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 3 carrots, peeled, cut into chunks
- 2 celery ribs, cut into chunks
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled, slightly smashed
Soup Base Spice/Herb Ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ to 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt (+/-) *
Added Spice/Herb Ingredients:
- ¼ teaspoon Italian Seasoning *
- ¼ teaspoon dried crushed thyme leaves *
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning *
- 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika
- Pinch dried rosemary
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Tablespoon miso (optional) *
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Cooked small pasta of choice (pastina, orzo, couscous, etc.) *
- Generous sprinkle Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Freshly chopped parsley
- Place the Soup Base Spice/Herb Ingredients (except the bay leaf) in a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- Place the Added Spice/Herb Ingredients in a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- Add all the Base Ingredients and Soup Base Spice/Herb Mix into a large stock pot, stir well to combine, then add in the bay leaves, bring to a boil, then immediately lower to simmer. Cover the pot ajar with the lid and simmer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, the veggies should be very soft, and the liquids have reduced.
- Strain out all the soft veggies with a slotted spoon into a high-speed blender, being careful to not include the bay leaves. One all the veggies are moved to the blender, add about 1 ½ cups of the broth to the blender. Blend on high until the mixture is very smooth, approximately 2 minutes, then return the blended mixture to the soup pot (with the remaining broth) and stir well to incorporate.
- Next, add the Added Spice/Herb Mix to the soup, along with lemon juice, miso, and Vegan Parmesan Cheese. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, boil the pasta of choice according to package directions, strain, and rinse well with cold water. Set aside.
- To serve, add a generous portion of the cooked pasta to the bottom of a soup bowl, ladle the hot broth over top, sprinkle generously with Vegan Parmesan Cheese and some freshly chopped parsley. Enjoy!
*Please reference the blog post for Tips for Success, Pantry Items Used, Storage and Freezing, and Kitchen Products Used.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
*Serving: Makes 8 cups of soup (not including pasta)
*Nutrition Information: Our vegan parmesan cheese uses cashews and almonds.
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