Tortellini in brodo is not strictly a Venetian dish: it comes from Bologna. But I remember my mother cooking it for lunch so often in the winter, and it is a dish so laden with childhood nostalgia that I couldn’t neglect giving you my recipe for chicken soup with tortellini. I can’t tell you how comforting this is to eat. Anna, a dear friend of mine, makes her own tortellini to cook in broth. Instead of filling the pasta with the traditional mix of prosciutto and Parmesan, she ties them into little knots with no filling at all; she wants nothing to distract from the pure simplicity of the broth. All of this is to say tortellini in brodo is more about the soup than it is about the pasta. This meat broth is made with a mix of pork and chicken still on the bone, so it is rich and flavorsome. If I have a leftover Parmesan rind, I throw that in, too. And yet, unlike Anna, I enjoy tortellini that are bursting with cheese and ham floating on top of my broth, and I have absolutely no qualms in buying them ready-made from the shops.
- In a large saucepan, combine the onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, Parmesan rind if using, chicken and pork, and 8 cups water. Add the potato whole; it will absorb some of the excess fat from the meat. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer gently for 11⁄2 hours, or longer if you like. The longer it simmers, the more flavorsome the broth will become, though don’t cook it for much more than 2 to 3 hours.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let the broth cool to room temperature. Remove all the large solids from the soup, then pass the liquid through a sieve or cheesecloth once or twice, until you have a clear broth. (The broth will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days.)
- When you are ready to cook your tortellini, pour the broth into a large saucepan, set the pan on medium heat, and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook in the broth until they float to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls, making sure each gets plenty of tortellini. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the broth and serve straightaway.
Reprinted with permission from A Table in Venice copyright © 2018 by Skye McAlpine. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.