1100 Tortellini!

Tortellini soup has been a Christmas Eve tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. My Mom would buy 8 bags filled 100 tortellini each from a little old Italian woman who lived across town. When she called each year she would have to mention my Grandfather and I think there was even a secret password involved. The bags only cost 3 dollars, and the tortellini were out of this world. Every year it was the highlight of the season and we waited for it with anticipation. It was my Dad’s side of the family that came over every year. And since they are the Irish side of my family, they could only get their fix of this soup once a year and it became quite a big event.

One year we found out that the secret tortellini lady had moved back to Italy. What would we do?? For a few years my Mom bounced around from various specialty store to newer secret tortellini ladies. But it was never the same and our special meal suffered. Don’t get me wrong, it was still great, but not like it once was. On top of that these women were charging 15 dollars a bag and up! That got expensive when buying 8 bags. Finally one year when we had no other options (and I happened to be unemployed at the time and just beginning to love cooking) I offered to make the tortellini.

My Mom was unsure. Should we risk it not tasting good for all those people? Can we get the recipe from Grandma? Will you be able to do it all yourself? I was home for the weekend and she called my Grandmother asking about the recipe and if she thought it was doable, she replied probably not and that it was a lot of work. The NEXT MORNING, my Grandmother showed up with 2 pounds of tortellini filling, my Grandfather, 2 great aunts, and a ham(!) for lunch. We worked all day and it has been a fun tradition ever since. I was home for thanksgiving this past weekend and we all got together to make them for this year.

Mandi and I like to use the well method to make pasta dough, but both my Mother and Grandmother use a food processor. Normally I would stand up for my style of doing it, but this way is great for doing a bunch of batches like we had to do today.

It’s also way cleaner (if you have a dishwasher)

The filling also gets food processed, but make sure you leave it slightly chunky. You don’t want tortellini mousse!

This is how it looks after being processed.

I went to roll out the pasta when my family arrived so we could get started. I was immediately accosted by my mother and grandmother and told to step away from the pasta machine.

Everyone getting to work!

After making ravioli and wontons all year, I forget 2 things about tortellini. One, that they are extremely small, and 2 that there is a different way to fold them. More on this later.

Here I have drawn a line separating the 2 folding methods. On the right is the style that I sometimes do wontons in. You also get them shaped like this when you buy premade tortellini. On the left is the more traditional Italian grandmother style. I personally like them both so that there is variety in your soup.

This is what 120 tortellini look like.

It’s good to have a runner. That person also should roll out the dough as necessary.  This way, the workers can focus on their task.

Here is a step by step of one tortellini.

When I pick my pasta square off the board, I place the filling on the side that was facing down. This side is more moist and will seal better without water.

Here is where the option comes in. Follow the black arrows to make a tortellini the way I often make wontons on this site. Follow the red lines to make a more traditional Italian grandmother tortellini.

This is the wonton method.

Yum. So tiny, so delicious.

You can see here that she is about to do the Italian grandmother method.

Nobody tell my family! I put a grape in one. I am planning on giving a prize to whoever gets this on Christmas Eve.

They are growing in numbers!!! We took a quick lunch break and had the lasagna soup seen here yesterday.

Note the lack of flour. When I make ravioli, I have a ton of excess flour around so that they don’t stick.  This is fine because they cook in water. Tortellini cook in the soup so extra flour would mess things up.

All done!! 1100 Tortellini.

You will have to stick around to see how these turned out because we don’t eat them till Christmas! I was going to take pictures of us freezing them, but I fell asleep. But that’s boring anyways. Just put them on trays separately, then after they are frozen put them in bags of 100.

This calls for a celebration!

The filling is a mixture of a pound of cooked chicken, pound of cooked pork, 3 eggs, 12 slices mortadella, ¾ cup parmesan, small amount of breadcrumbs, sprinkle of nutmeg, salt, pepper. This gave us enough to make 1100 tortellini and have a lot of filling left over. Next time I will use more mortadella.

The pasta dough is the usual 4 eggs to 3 cups flour. glug of olive oil, salt.

Fans of the site are thinking… where is Mandi? Well we were apart during Thanksgiving. She was pretty disappointed she couldn’t make tortellini, but she was having fun here in Bermuda. Doing what you ask? You will find out soon enough.


  1. Yum…mortadella makes me want a muffaletta really bad! But I digress…
    Can’t wait to see what secret recipe soup this tortellini goes into!

  2. ha ha ha I love that “grandma” brought a ham. who just brings a whole ham somewhere for lunch, and what makes it better, is that papa cant even eat ham!
    also, you act as though you would of had a chance changing how the pasta was made if you had said something. Be honest with yourself, and take a hint from when you tried to roll out the dough.

  3. Dan does a great job cooking, unfortunately he’s a little pokey ( that’s a nice word, right?) When you have all these people ready to work, you have to get the dough out quickly. Other than that, great job everyone and it really is fun to get together to get this work done. What’s that saying… many hands make light work? Plus the conversation makes the time fly.

  4. Love the post!
    My family (dad side) is italian and I’m venezuelan, so we have to share the holidays among this 2 cuisines. But christmas eve’s dinner belongs to the great tortellini in brodo! 😀

  5. Have you read Heat by Bill Buford? According to legend the originator of tortellini made them to enshrine to his the beauty of his married lover’s navel. The likeness was so accurate that when the husband of of the lover ate the tortellini at his restaurant the husband instantly knew that she was cheating on him.

  6. My family had the same Chrsitmas tradition. My grandmother always made the filling beforehand and all the kids would make the “cappeletti” we called them. served in achicken broth and then throw a bit of red wine in the broth…my favorite!! Marcella Hazan has this recipe in her first cook book…it’s the closest thing I have had to my grandmothers filling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.