Kelly Newlon and Stephanie Howe bring you unique and exciting recipes and along with a wealth of knowledge about nutrients and nourishment in their monthly Trail Sisters column, Nourish.
Pastina! This is truly a go-to recipe throughout the year.
It is used when my family is sick, served at nearly every athlete training camp, fed to racers, pacers and crew members alike. I’ve made it at campfires, in a van, at home, in random VRBOs while traveling with teams and once in the back alley of Avenue A in NYC after a power outage at the famed James Beard House.
Why am I such a fan? First and foremost, it is delicious! This is comfort food at its finest, brought to you by generations of Italian families. I love that there is literally zero wasted water. Unlike most pasta recipes, there is no straining of water after the pasta is cooked. Another reason this makes pastina a strong addition to van life, camping, etc. The pasta is cooked in a stock, absorbed by said stock, thus retaining the benefits of this glorious liquid.
Second, pastina is a comfort food and full of nourishing ingredients. This is a great dish to make when you’re feeling the need for something soothing, whether that’s physically or emotionally. This soup is like a big cozy wool blanket hug for your body. We could all use that from time to time, and why not make something that will also be nourishing to our bodies as well.
Pastina is a vehicle for carbs, fat, protein and even a bit of fiber. If you find yourself feeding this to someone during a race, feel free to eliminate the fiber from the recipe. I love how the lemon zest, red pepper flake and fresh parsley brighten things up and add exceptional micronutrients. The pasta is small, and the product is much thicker than traditional American chicken soup, thus making it easy to shovel calories in and digest with ease. I for one am always a fan of witnessing athletes with high elbows shoveling food in with delight.
Additionally, when served with kale and carrots (or other veggies!) this is a nutritional powerhouse. Many of the micronutrients found in vegetables are more available for digestion and absorption when they are cooked. Kale is a great example of this, and let’s be honest, it tastes better when it’s cooked anyway. Feel free to add any other vegetables you have around the house or want to add. Stephanie really likes adding potatoes to her pastina- it makes for an even creamier soup. Get creative- the nice thing about soup is that it’s difficult to mess up. The skys the limit.
When served as a pre-race meal (or for an upset tummy/illness) keep it simple and go light on the fiber. The magic is in the broth, pasta, and herbs and spices. If you are feeling under the weather, make a big batch, sit down with a big bowl and spoon, and feel the magic as you sip the warm broth. It’s something Stephanie recommends for this time of year- we’re all bound to the sniffles or a sore throat and this soup is so soothing.
Whether it is my pantry at home, or the pantry box I travel with for RAD, rest assured there are always a few boxes of tiny pasta at the ready.
Last, but not least, feel free to omit the egg if you are not on board with it. Vegans can easily switch to a vegan cheese or omit. And gluten free pasta is easily substituted as well. Just be sure to use small sized pasta as this dictates the end result of smooth, thick and velvety mouthfeel.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil +1 tablespoon to drizzle on top once plated
- ¾ cup tiny pasta such as pastina, acini de pepe, orzo, or stelline
- 3-4 cups broth (poultry or vegetable)
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flake (this merely brightens things up, rather than adding heat)
- 1 cup chopped raw kale
- ½ cup small diced carrot
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lemon zested
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
In a medium sized pot, heat the oil using medium heat.
Add garlic, carrots, salt and red pepper flake.
Cook on medium for 3-4 minutes. Stir occasionally so the garlic does not burn and to evenly heat the carrots.
Add stock and bring to a boil. Once the stock reaches a boil, add the pasta and stir. Cook for 7-10 minutes. The type of pasta you use will dictate the time. I usually pull a couple of pieces out to test after 7 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally to avoid the pasta clumping together.
When the pasta is ready, turn the heat off.
Immediately add the egg and whisk whisk whisk! Continue incorporating the egg stirring. This will produce lovely threaded egg strands.
Immediately after adding the egg, add the kale, parsley and lemon zest.
Taste before serving to adjust seasoning. Portion soup into bowls and add a generous pinch of parmesan.
For a more substantial meal, serve with some crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich.