Every Italian region has its own tradition when it comes to celebrating the holiday season. In Emilia-Romagna, tortellini in broth is the first course we enjoy especially on Christmas day! Filled with Italian prosciutto and mortadella, this pasta is simply exquisite! 

Three cities share the paternity of tortellini: Bologna, Modena, and Castelfranco Emilia. But one thing is certain, tortellini were born in Emilia-Romagna. According to our tradition, tortellini must be cooked and eaten in a good broth made of beef and capon or chicken meat. The broth contributes to enhancing the flavor of tortellini’s fillings, making the dish tastier. In some regional variants, tortellini are seasoned with meat sauce, and also more recently,  it has been quite common to enjoy them with cream.

But how is the filling prepared for this delicious fresh pasta? According to tradition, the filling is made of pork loin, raw ham, Mortadella from Bologna, Parmigiano-Reggiano, eggs, and nutmeg. There are also many other different versions that vary depending on the region.

Legends and curiosity

The first evidence of tortellini dates back to 1112 A.D., did you know its name comes from the diminutive of “tortello” which refers to the word “torta” (cake)? The modern tortellini was born in a poor environment: they were created to “recycle” leftover meat from the table of the rich nobles.

About the origin of this dish, many legends report its birth in Castelfranco Emilia, a town between Bologna and Modena. One of them attributes the creation of tortellini in broth to the owner of an inn who was so impressed by the navel of a noblewoman that he wanted to reproduce it in culinary work. Another variant of the story, very similar, is inspired by the navel of the goddess Venus.

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