As a child, there were two things I loved about Sal’s pizzeria: the jukebox and the tortellini soup.
I remember trying tortellini soup for the first time as much as I remember inserting quarters into the machine to select every Madonna and Cindy Lauper song in its repertoire. It quickly became my favorite dish…my plate of choice for every subsequent trip: cheese-filled pasta in deep yellow broth. It was something my family never made at home, but rather a treat reserved for the restaurant.
Sal’s eventually closed, and my teenage years and twenties elapsed, and I eventually stopped nurturing my love for tortellini soup…until I traveled to Italy in 2012 and took a pasta-making course at La Vecchia Scuola, Alessandra Spisni’s cooking school in Bologna. Not only did I get to craft my very own tortellini by hand, but I also got to savor a bowl of delightfully nuanced tortellini in a clear ambery brodo prepared by Alessandra herself. I still haven’t got around to making fresh tortellini again (I will!), but I live in Italy and have plenty of fresh tortellini at my disposal. And I order tortellini in brodo any chance I get.
More so, I’ve come to enjoy tortellini at home. Though my version is a bit lazier. I purchase meat-filled fresh tortellini and cook it in highly salted boiling water. Once cooked, I reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain. I immediately place the tortellini in the serving bowl and cover with a blanket of grated Parmigiano, and stir—I do this when it’s hot so the cheese melts and delicately coats the tortellini. I keep the pasta water on hand to help make the cheese seem a tad bit “saucier”—but not too much, I add 1/2 teaspoon at a time. To finish, I drizzle balsamic vinegar on top which adds a luscious tart touch. This has become my go-to lunch on many a busy day.
Alessandra Spinsi’s recipe for tortellini soup is online so one of these days, I’ll get around to making it myself.