Tortellini in Brodo (Tortellini in Broth) A Northern Italian Classic!

Tortellini in Brodo
Tortellini served beautifully at Christmas

Everyone loves their cherished family traditions, especially for the holidays.  For my family, no holiday would ever be complete without tortellini in broth (tortellini in brodo).  We serve this soup the authentic way from northern Italy, specifically the provence of Emilia-Romagna.  Although tortellini is delightful served in a cream sauce, this is the true northern Italian way to serve it.  My family savors this delicate homemade stuffed pasta in a very American way that differs from how it is served in Italy . . . we fill our bowls with a large quantity of tortellini, whereas in Italy only a small amount of tortelllini float in a large amount of broth.  Why keep going back for seconds when it’s already in front of you in your bowl?  Makes sense to me!

We are spending Thanksgiving in a much different way than in the past.  For the first time we are celebrating this holiday on the coast on Hilton Head Island, SC.  The weather is just gorgeous in the 70’s to low 80’s, with soft breezes and cool evenings.    It really is a wonderful change.  Each day we’ve been biking and walking the beach.  A perfect way to relax, restore, and ponder on all things that we are grateful for.

This recipe requires several days to prepare; one day to make the pasta and broth, and one day to fill and twist the tortellini.  If you have the time and desire for a true Italian homemade pasta specialty, here is my cherished family recipe for Tortellini in Brodo (Tortellini in Broth):

I found this following bit of Italian food trivia on the Barilla web-site:  “Although tortellini are undoubtedly a food from Emilia, the origin of this famous pasta dish is unclear. One thing is for sure and that is that tortellini are fairly ancient. There is a recipe for tortelli, larger tortellini, that dates back to the 12th century, while the first recipe for tortellini alla Bolognese comes from 1550. From that moment on, tortellini have held a special place in the cuisine of Bologna. 

“Although tortellini are undoubtedly a food from Emilia, the origin of this famous pasta dish is unclear. One thing is for sure and that is that tortellini are fairly ancient. There is a recipe for tortelli, larger tortellini, that dates back to the 12th century, while the first recipe for tortellini alla Bolognese comes from 1550. From that moment on, tortellini have held a special place in the cuisine of Bologna.

According to the legend, in the morning, Bacchus and Mars woke up early to visit the battle site, but when Venus awoke, she thought she had been abandoned by her companions. She immediately called the innkeeper to find out where they had gone. The innkeeper arrived to find the goddess of love naked in front of him. The beauty of her body made such a strong impression on him that he created a new shape of pasta that resembled her belly button!

“Traditionally, when cooked in broth, 50 tortellini were served per person?”

Tortellini in Brodo (Tortellini in Broth)
Pasta Dough:
Blend together:
1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 jumbo eggs
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. whole milk (this helps the pasta seal together when twisting the tortellini)
1 cup Semolina flour
Blend these six ingredients together very, very well.
Then add:
3/4 cup regular flour (not semolina)
You can mix this the old-fashioned way by making a “bowl” of flour on a wooden block, placing the wet ingredients in the center of the ‘flour bowl’ and gently add the flour in with a fork until completely mixed, OR you can mix the dough in a food processor until it has the consistency of corn meal. This finished dough should be well blended, but NOT sticky. If it is sticky, cut the dough into 3 sections and add 1 Tbsp. flour to each. If, on the other hand, it is too dry and crumbly, add 1 – 2 tsp. water.
Knead the pasta dough for 2 – 3 minutes. Put into plastic bag and let rest for 30 minutes.
For every egg that you use, it will make about 100 tortellini, therefore this recipe makes 100 tortellini (at the correct size that is).
Tortellini Filling:
1 lb. ground cooked veal, drain the fat and cool slightly
1/4 lb. prosciutto
1/4 lb. mortadella
While the veal is cooking, grind the prosciutto and mortadella in a food processor, only until it is in little pieces — don’t process to much or it will turn into a mushy mess.
Then add this the cooked veal; let it cool a little or the egg that you are about to add will cook and you don’t want the eggs to cook.
Add to this whole mixture:
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. (or more to taste) nutmeg
dash of pepper
1 jumbo beaten egg
Continue to add:
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
1/3 – 2/3 cups plain bread crumbs
If needed: add 1 – 2 Tbsp. butter
You need to taste throughout the blending process to determine the ‘crumbly texture and biting taste’.
Now, let’s get the chicken broth going on the stove before you get started rolling the pasta dough out.
Homemade Chicken Broth (Brodo):
Fill a large, tall pot with clean water (I like to use water from my frig that purifies it) with enough room from the top of the pot to put the rest of the ingredients in without overflowing the water.
Put the following in the pot:
One 6-pound chicken (hen)
1 package soup bones (if you can get them)
1 4-pound round bone beef roast
3 carrots, cut in thirds
1 onion, cut in 1/4’s
3 celery stalks, cut in thirds
1/4 bunch of Italian parsley
Cook 2 – 3 hours.
Take all ingredients out of the broth with a hand strainer.
With thin tea towels covering a colander/strainer, pour the broth through them into another pot……this is a lot of work and usually needs two people to do this. Be careful, the broth is very hot while you do this. Continue to strain the broth into clean tea towels about two more times until the broth is completely clear and free of any ingredient remains.
Taste, add more salt to taste.
If you make this the night before, refrigerate it, and then the next day, skim off any fat/grease from the top (it will solidify in the frig and be very easy to remove).
Serve with freshly grated Parmigiana cheese
Buon Appetito!
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  1. says

    This sounds very good Roz and it’s easy to see why the older generations didn’t have much leisure time. Some day we must make pasta and will save this. Enjoy your beach time – we’re still in San Marcos, Tx.

  2. says

    I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving break at the coast. I love the way you set this dish up to photograph. Guess what I have started a separate blog to share more of my photography, I hope you will be interested.

  3. says

    Oh, my, this looks fabulous, Roz!!! From the homemade broth to your gorgeous tortellini….mmmmmmm, so delicious! Hope you’ve had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family! xoxo

  4. says

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you too! Thanks for stopping by during this busy time of year! So grateful for your friendship!!!! XOXO Roz

  5. says

    Hi Roz,
    Hilton Head is breathtaking and the perfect place to relax!

    I love this dish. My grandma used to make it from scratch also. I don’t recall seeing the round roast in the lineup. In fact, thinking more about it, her broth was more chicken than anything. Now the tortellini, well they sound exactly the same.

    Thanks for visiting my blog earlier today, was really nice to hear from yu again… I missed you

  6. says

    My heart stops when I see this dish. I was on a mission in Bologna to find this everywhere and consume it in copious quantities. You have the perfect broth – deep, rich, soul-satisfying.

  7. Anonymous says

    I haven’t had this dish in years and look forward to making this. One thing…what size diameter cutter did you use for the pasta in order to get approx 100 tortellini?

    Chris in Norfolk, VA

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