Italian Pastina Egg Drop Soup is a delicate and comforting soup that brings together tiny jewels of pasta with silky egg ribbons in a heart-warming chicken broth.
Chinese egg drop soup, is a dish where eggs are beaten and slowly added to a hot savory broth that also includes ginger, soy sauce and green onions.
Stracciatella alla Romana, on the other hand, is the Italian version of egg drop soup, with the most notable difference being the inclusion of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with the beaten eggs into the broth. Both soups involve eggs, but their flavors are very different.
This Italian "penicillin", is a soup most Italians will speak fondly of, as it's a soup our mothers fed us when we were home from school, miserable with a cold.
There is something very comforting about this soup. Is it the feel of a mother's hug and care, is it its delicate flavor, or is it the sense of warmth we feel when we have a bowl?
I don't know what the answer is, but when I eat this soup, it's like a cure-all, and no matter what's going on or how I feel, it always warms my heart. That's pretty magical for such a simple recipe.
Here is a summary of the ingredients you'll need to make Italian stracciatella soup:
- Pastina: Is a tiny shape of pasta roughly 2 millimeters in size. Pastina is a generic term that refers to a tiny pasta shape. Pastina includes various types of pasta, and I used acini di pepe (meaning peppercorns in Italian) from the brand Delverde.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese: I highly recommend you buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself versus buying already grated cheese. The flavor will be so much better.
See the recipe card below for all the ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions & Variations
- Chicken broth: Homemade broth is the best option for this cure-all soup, but a good quality store-bought broth will work well too; make sure you choose unsalted broth.
- Pastina: Substitute with stelline, meaning little stars in Italian, or orzo, which is a small pasta that resembles a grain of rice.
- Spinach: Substitute frozen spinach nuggets for fresh. Add three frozen nuggets to the soup and simmer until thawed. Or if you don't have spinach, swiss chard will work, but it will take a little longer to cook because it's less tender than spinach. Finally, for a touch of color and flavor, add a handful of chopped fresh parsley as a variation.
- Lemon: This classic soup is also delicious with a squeeze of lemon.
How to Make Pastina Egg Drop Soup
It's surprising it only takes 25 minutes to make this comforting soup. Let me show you how to make it.
Boil broth. In a large covered pot or Dutch oven, bring the broth to a boil. Add salt and stir.
Add pasta. To the boiling broth add the pastina, stir and cook according to package directions. The acini di pepe takes about 8 minutes to cook.
Beat eggs and cheese. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the eggs and grated cheese and beat until the eggs and cheese are well combined.
Add egg mixture to pot. Once the pasta has cooked, pour the egg mixture into the boiling soup, stir, and cook for 2 minutes.
Add spinach. Add the chopped spinach to the soup, stir and cook for 30 seconds.
Serve. Serve with grated Pamigiano-Reggiano cheese, a few cracks of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
Secrets for Success
- Use a good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Avoid the pre-grated cheese from the store and grate it yourself for the best flavor.
- I highly recommend homemade chicken broth for best results.
Storage, Make Ahead & Reheating
- Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days. I don't recommend freezing the soup.
- Make ahead: The soup can be made ahead of time, and since the pasta is so tiny, it does not suck up all the broth.
- Reheating: Reheat on the stove over medium heat or microwave a bowl of soup for one and a half to two minutes, depending on the power of your microwave.
Stracciatella comes from the Italian word stracciare, which means 'to rip to shreds.' In the content of this soup, the egg and cheese mixture resembles little shreds, rags, or torn-up bits once added to the hot broth.
Pastina is Italian and means little pasta in English. It is the smallest category of pasta and is often used in soups, such as the classic Italian Wedding Soup.
Pastina is one of the first types of pasta given to babies and young children, and for this reason, pastina conjures up good memories, is very nostalgic, and is a much-loved comfort food.
Absolutely. Reheat gently on the stove over medium heat, or reheat one bowl in the microwave for one and a half to two minutes.
📖 Recipe Card
Pastina Egg Drop Soup (Stracciatella alla Romana)
- Dutch oven or large pot
- measuring cups and spoons
- cheese grater
- small bowl
- 6 cups unsalted chicken broth, homemade or store-bought
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- ½ cup pastina, I used acini de pepe pasta
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1½ ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- Boil broth. In a large covered pot or Dutch oven, bring the broth to a boil. Add salt and stir.6 cups unsalted chicken broth, ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- Add pasta. To the boiling broth add the pastina, stir and cook according to package directions. The acini di pepe takes about 8 minutes to cook.½ cup pastina
- Beat eggs and cheese. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the eggs and grated cheese and beat until the eggs and cheese are well combined.2 large eggs, 1½ ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Add egg mixture to pot. Once the pasta has cooked, pour the egg mixture into the boiling soup, stir, and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add spinach. Add the chopped spinach to the soup, stir and cook for 30 seconds.2 cups fresh spinach
- Serve. Serve with grated Pamigiano-Reggiano cheese, a few cracks of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.