Why The Broth Is So Important For Tortellini En Brodo

We have Bologna, Italy to thank for many of Italy's best dishes. Lasagna, for starters, hails from the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, as do mortadella and ragù. All kinds of sauces, meats, and pastas characterize the city's culinary heritage, though perhaps none better exemplifies the delicious simplicity of Italian cooking than tortellini en brodo.

Tortellini en brodo, or tortellini in broth, is exactly as its name suggests. In the most classic iteration of this dish, meat-filled tortellini swim in a warm capon broth, often with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese overhead (via Taste Atlas). Most recipes call for pasta dough made from eggs and flour, while a standard filling includes Bolognese meats — pork loin, prosciutto, and mortadella — as well as parmesan, eggs, and nutmeg.

While tortellini surely warrant their own dish, the addition of the broth is uniquely Bolognese and provides a vehicle for the pasta to shine. You can certainly make tortellini in soup if you're looking for something heartier, but for those cold days — and the richest of tortellini — it's best to let the pasta shine. Keep your broth simple by following the Bolognese broth protocol.

Broth makes or breaks this dish

The broth is the game-changer for tortellini. According to Martha Stewart, tortellini in broth only calls for a few ingredients, making each one all the more important. To enhance your dish, only use high-quality ingredients, particularly when it comes to the chicken stock. You can use homemade or store-bought broths, but to truly capture the complexity of the flavors, it may be best to make a broth from scratch.

In fact, Tina's Table warns against serving tortellini in standard chicken or vegetable stocks; instead, the website suggests a broth made of several cuts of meat and herbs that complement — rather than overpower — the flavor of the tortellini. Chicken is a signature ingredient in most tortellini broths, via Great Italian Chefs, though the Bolognese also takes advantage of capon and beef, especially during the winter holiday season.

If you're vegetarian, however, there's no need to steer clear of the dish. There are all kinds of broth substitutions, from aquafaba to salted butter and water. Once you settle on a broth, you can pack a lot of punch in your pasta and experiment with a range of tortellini flavors. Try this creamy tomato tortellini and it's easy to turn a pasta vegan by swapping out traditional cheese and forgoing the eggs. Some recipes are more traditionally Bolognese than others, but if you keep your broth simple and fresh, you'll capture the spirit of the city's cuisine for a delicious meal.