Agnolini in brodo

  • medium
  • 6
  • 4 hours 15 minutes

This traditional dish of filled pasta parcels in a clear chicken broth hails from the city of Mantova in Lombardy. The agnolini are filled with a mixture of pork, beef, sausage and chicken livers, while the brodo is a simple chicken stock – making this a celebratory dish perfect for meat-lovers.

First published in 2018

Agnolini are a type of filled pasta hailing from the Lombard city of Mantova with historic origins. It is said to date back to 1662, when it first appeared in Bartolomeo Stefani’s book L’arte di ben cucinare (he was a cook for Mantova’s royal family, The Gonzaga). From then onwards, the recipe has been passed on to the people of the city, who still consider it one of the founding dishes in their culinary heritage.

Agnolini, like the more widely known cappelletti or tortellini, are served 'in brodo', meaning bobbing about in a clear chicken broth. Unlike tortellini, however, agnolini contain a filling which counts local salumi and chicken livers, while the shape can be round, square or akin to tortellini.

A classic minestra della festa (holiday soup), agnolini are served on special occasions such as Christmas. On Christmas Eve, families often gather to prepare agnolini for the following day, making it a collective effort that involves multiple generations.





  • 75g of pancetta, minced
  • 150g of pork loin
  • 200g of braising beef
  • 150g of Italian pork sausage, crumbled
  • 100 chicken livers, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g of fine breadcrumbs
  • 100g of Grana Padano, grated
  • fine sea salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Pasta dough


  • 2l fresh chicken stock, heated
  • Grana Padano, grated, to serve


  • Pasta machine


Start with the filling. Place the pancetta, pork and beef in a high-edged casserole and cover with cold water. Place over a low heat and bring to the boil
Next, add the crumbled sausage and chicken livers. Cover and cook over a very low heat for 3–4 hours, until all the meats are very tender. Add more water if needed
Mince the meats using a meat mincer or pulse in a food processor. Add the eggs, breadcrumbs and grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. If the mixture appears too dry, add a few spoonfuls of the leftover meat juices. Mix until well combined, then cover in cling film and allow to rest
To make the pasta dough, make a well with the flour on a work surface and crack the eggs inside it. Beat the eggs with a fork, incorporating the flour a little at the time, until you see some lumps of dough coming together
Carry on with your hands, kneading the dough until you have a smooth, elastic ball. Flatten it into a disc, wrap it in cling film and leave it to rest for half an hour
Divide the pasta dough into three pieces and roll them using a pasta machine – I normally stop at to the second-to-last setting. Spread the sheets of pasta over a floured work surface
Place as many teaspoons of the filling along the lower half of your sheet as you can fit, with a 1cm gap between them. Gently fold the sheet over to cover and cut out your square agnolini with a pasta wheel – you can also make these round with a small cutter or in the shape of a tortellino. Press the edges together to seal them
Bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil. Cook the agnolini in the stock until they float to the top. Serve the agnolini right away with a ladleful of broth and a generous dusting of grated Grana Padano

Discover more about this region's cuisine:

Valeria Necchio is an Italian food writer and photographer with roots in the Venetian countryside.

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