What is passatelli?
Passatelli is one of the most classic broth soups widespread both in Emilia-Romagna and in the Marche.
Passatelli pasta has the characteristic shape of filaments (some call them little worms), with a diameter of about 5 millimeters, rough and quite firm. They can be in different lengths depending on the tool used to make them. In fact, to prepare passatelli, it was traditionally made with a special tool, the ferro per passatelli, which is difficult to find outside of Romagna. In the past, passatelli were made into soup for holidays and great occasions such as Easter, Ascension, baptisms, confirmations, and weddings; at Christmas they were replaced by cappelletti in brodo.
Origins and history
Its origins are not very well defined or documented, but although mentioned in the Artusi cookbook, it probably derives from a soup of Roman or Marche origin called stracciatella, which shares many ingredients with it but has a different final outcome.
Passatelli were born in the countryside, where the azdora prepared the final shape of the pasta using the ferro per passatelli. This tool has disappeared over time, and a potato ricer with large holes is used in its place.
The original Romagna recipe, in which they are called passadei, involves the use of bread, which over time has become breadcrumbs, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, eggs, and lemon zest for flavor.
Today, nutmeg is sometimes used instead of lemon zest, and some chefs use nutmeg in addition to the zest to preserve the freshness of the lemon.
Passatelli were originally served in broth, but over time, thanks to the creativity of some chefs, it has become possible to find them dry and paired with sauce like rich fish sauce.
- Potato ricer
- 3 eggs
- 150 grams grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 150 grams fine breadcrumbs
- grated rind of half a lemon untreated
- nutmeg to taste
- 64 oz chicken broth vegetable broth works too
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the breadcrumbs on a pastry board, form a well in the center, and break the 3 eggs in the center. Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a grating of nutmeg, the lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. A large bowl can also be used as an alternative to the pastry board.
- Add a ladle of broth and mix the ingredients with your hands until you get a compact dough. Adjust the breadcrumbs and broth to obtain a compact mixture.
- Leave the dough to rest for about 2-3 hours at room temperature. Every 20-25 minutes, knead the dough again for a couple of minutes. This process will help make dough elastic and firm and to prevent the passatelli from disintegrating in the broth.
- When the dough is ready, bring the broth to boil.
- On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into balls big enough to fit in the potato ricer and crush them one by one with a potato masher with large holes (about 5 mm). Wrinkled and firm filaments should form as the dough is forced through the holes.
- Slowly and carefully drop the passatelli into the boiling broth.
- The passatelli are cooked as soon as they float to the surface.