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Tortellini in brodo: A traditional local’s recipe

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This is a traditional tortellini in brodo recipe from Bologna, Italy. It is delicate yet hearty and most importantly, full of flavour. This recipe takes you through the making of fresh pasta, tortellini and brodo. Make this special pasta dish at home and wow your friends and family. This is an authentic local Bolognese recipe handed down over generations.

There is nothing more Italian than learning how to make tortellini in brodo in the region where it comes from. We love making pasta and on a trip to one of our favourite cities, Bologna, we were delighted to be able to do a cooking class and cook with a local in their own home.

This is our take on her Tortellini in Brodo recipe (also written as tortellini en brodo), modifying it slightly because not everyone always has access to the authentic products of northern Italy.

What is Tortellini in Brodo?

Tortellini in Brodo is a regional dish that comes from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Despite it being a pasta dish, it is light to eat, showcasing the Italian way of cooking: fresh and simple. It is a favourite often served on Christmas Day in Bologna.

Why this recipe works

  • In the first instance, this recipe works because it is based on a traditional recipe from a Bologna local, passed down from generation to generation and using local ingredients.
  • All of the ingredients can be purchased around the world.
  • That being said, some substitutions can be made to the ingredients. Just know that when you substitute, technically it can no longer be called tortellini in brodo.
tortellini en brodo made up

What goes into this recipe

ingredients for making toretllini in brodo

Recipe ingredient notes

  • If you don’t have access to beef shoulder or pork loin, beef mince and pork mince are good meat substitutes.
  • As this is a traditional Italian recipe, they use authentic Parma prosciutto. If you don’t have access to this, streaky bacon or ham will work just as well for flavour.
  • Mortadella is a traditional Italian processed meat and is found in Bologna in particular. You can find this in most supermarkets and delicatessens even if it isn’t really the “real thing”. In the US, this is called baloney.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano is commonly (and incorrectly) called parmesan cheese. This cheese, however, is one that is controlled by the official appellation process in Italy. Only cheese produced in the Emilia Romagna region and under strict conditions may be called Parmigiano Reggiano. If you don’t have access to this, Grana Padano or other cheese labelled as parmesan may still be used.
  • Typically, a beef or veal stock might be used for the broth, but we have found that chicken broth works just as well. Whatever it is, making this with homemade stock is much better than commercially-bought stock.
  • OO flour is a soft, fine flour that is great for making pasta and pizza dough. It has a reasonably high protein %. If you can’t find this flour, using plain (all-purpose) flour will still work.

How to make this recipe

Step 1

Mix together four eggs and the flour. Depending on the available equipment, you can mix it together straight onto a benchtop or in a bowl. While we have done these manually before, most of the time we use our Kitchenaid with a dough hook. Mix it through until it forms a rough dough.

tortellini en brodo egg and flour mix

Cook’s tip: If the dough is too wet, add a little more flour. If it’s too dry, just add a little water or even a splash of olive oil.

Step 2

Knead the dough (either manually or in a mixer) until it is smooth and elastic.

Roll the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. If the weather is not too hot, you can also leave, covered, on a bench.

Step 3

Roll the pasta out into thin layers resembling lasagne sheets. Once again, this can be done by hand with a rolling pin or using a pasta machine. We use the pasta rolling attachment on our Kitchenaid.

tortellini en brodo see through

Cook’s tip: Don’t roll the pasta out into sheets until you are ready to cut and fill otherwise it will dry out and won’t be manageable.

Step 4

Melt butter in a pan, add the beef and pork and brown. In a separate bowl, add the chopped prosciutto or Parma ham and mortadella. Add the egg and mix well. Next, add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

meat added together

Step 5

Add to a food processor and blend it all together until it forms a paste. It looks a bit ugly, but I promise it will taste really good.

meat added together tortellini-en-brodo-recipe-how-to-make-tortellini-en-brodo

Step 6

After rolling out the pasta into sheets, it’s time to cut it into squares for the tortellini.

tortellini en brodo cut into squares tortellini-en-brodo-recipe-how-to-make-tortellini-en-brodo
Cut the pasta sheets into squares

Tortellini is traditionally quite small. Tortelloni are the much larger items of pasta. Cut the pasta sheets into squares of about 4-5cm.

Note: As you become more experienced with making tortellini, you can make them even smaller than 4-5cm. The larger your fingers though, the harder it can be to fold them when they are really small.

Add a small amount of the filling, about the size of a large pea into the middle of each square.

Step 7

Folding tortellini takes some practice when you are doing it for the first time.

Take the pasta square with the filling and fold the opposite corners of the square to form a triangle. Seal the edges together so they will stay closed when put into the liquid.

Cook’s tip: Use a little water (sparingly) around the edges to help them seal.

Roll the triangle around your little finger and squash the two corners together. Turn the top corner outwards a little. Keep doing this to make all the tortellini you need.

finished tortellini tortellini-en-brodo-recipe-how-to-make-tortellini-en-brodo

Step 8

Because this is Tortellini in Brodo, the pasta must be cooked in a hot broth or stock. Put your stock in a large saucepan on the cooktop and bring it to a boil.

You might also need to season your stock depending on how you like it. We make our stock with no salt, so sometimes a little salt is needed to bring the flavour out.

Place the tortellini into the stock, being careful not to overcrowd it. The pasta will sink immediately to the bottom and will rise to the top in a few minutes once it has cooked.

cooking in broth
Cooking the tortellini in the broth

Step 9

Serve hot with grated Parmigiano Reggiano grated over the top.

tortellini en brodo served
Ready to eat tortellini en brodo

Cook’s tip: Tortellini can be made ahead and frozen. We like to freeze them in layers between sheets of freezer wrap. There’s nothing special to know when cooking frozen tortellini. When you want to use them, you can put the frozen pasta directly into the boiling broth to cook. Homemade stock can also be frozen.

Step By Step Photos Above
Our recipes all have step-by-step photos, tips and FAQs listed above to allow you to make it as perfect as possible the first time.

freshly made tortelliniwith olive oil bottles

Tortellini en brodo

Yield: 4 people
Prep Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes

Tortellini en brodo is a regional dish that comes from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Despite it being a pasta dish, it is light to eat, showcasing the Italian way of cooking: fresh and simple.

Ingredients

  • 400g 'OO' flour
  • 4 whole eggs (for pasta)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 whole egg (for fillin
  • 200g beef shoulder
  • 200g pork loin
  • 200g prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 100g mortadella, finely chopped
  • 100g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp butter for browning the meat
  • Nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste
  • 2 litres high-quality meat stock

Instructions

Making the filling

  1. Mix together four eggs and the flour. Depending on the available equipment, you can either mix together straight onto a benchtop, in a bowl or using an electric mixer with a dough hook.
  2. Mix it through until it forms a rough dough.
  3. Knead the dough (either manually or in a mixer) until it is smooth and elastic.
  4. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. If the weather is not too hot, you can also leave, covered, on a bench.
  5. Roll the pasta out into thin layers resembling lasagne sheets. Once again, this can be done by hand with a rolling pin or using a mechanical roller.

Making the filling

  1. Melt butter in a pan, add the beef and pork and brown.
  2. In a separate bowl, add the chopped prosciutto and mortadella. Add the egg and mix well.
  3. Add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add to a food processor and blend it all together until it forms a paste. It looks a bit ugly, but I promise it will taste really good.

Making the tortellini

  1. After rolling out the pasta into sheets, it's time to cut it into squares for the tortellini.
  2. Tortellini is traditionally quite small. Tortelloni are the much larger items of pasta. Cut the pasta sheets into squares of about 4-5cm.
  3. Add a small amount of the filling, about the size of a large pea into the middle of each square.

How to fold tortellini

  1. Folding tortellini takes some practice when you are doing it for the first time.
  2. Take the pasta square with the filling and fold the opposite corners of the square to form a triangle. Seal the edges together so that they will stay closed when put into the liquid.
  3. Roll the triangle around your little finger and squash the two corners together. Turn the top corner outwards a little. Keep doing this to make all the tortellini you need.

Cooking the tortellini

  1. Because this is tortellini en brodo, the pasta must be cooked in a hot broth or stock. Put your stock in a large saucepan on the cooktop and bring it to a boil.
  2. You might also need to season your stock depending on how you like it. We make our stock with no salt, so sometimes a little salt is needed to bring the flavour out.
  3. Place the tortellini into the stock, being careful not to overcrowd it. The pasta will sink immediately to the bottom and will rise to the top in a few minutes once it has cooked.
  4. Serve hot with greated Parmigiano Reggiano greated over the top.

Notes

  • If you don't have access to beef shoulder or pork loin, beef mince and pork mince are good meat substitutes.
  • As this is a traditional Italian recipe, they use authentic Parma prosciutto. If you don't have access to this, streaky bacon or ham will work just as well for flavour.
  • Mortadella is a traditional Italian processed meat and is found in Bologna in particular. You can find this in most supermarkets and delicatessens even if it isn't really the "real thing". In the US, this is called baloney.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano is commonly (and incorrectly) called parmesan cheese. This cheese, however, is one that is controlled by the official appellation process in Italy. Only cheese produced in the Emilia Romagna region and under strict conditions may be called Parmigiano Reggiano. If you don't have access to this, Grana Padano or other cheese labelled as parmesan may still be used.
  • Typically, a beef or veal stock might be used for the broth, but we have found that chicken broth works just as well. Whatever it is, making this with homemade stock is much better than commercially-bought stock.
  • OO flour is a soft, fine flour that is great for making pasta and pizza dough. It has a reasonably high protein %. If you can't find this flour, using plain (all-purpose) flour will still work.
  • Tortellini can be made ahead and frozen. We like to freeze them in layers between sheets of freezer wrap. When you want to use them, you can put the frozen pasta directly into the boiling broth to cook. Homemade stock can also be frozen.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 351Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 557mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 31g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

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tortellini en brodo freshly made

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