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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wonton Soup

Recently I started to think about the foods my family ate when I was a child and even though my little guy is still way too young for solids, it got me to thinking about the foods I could/would make for my family. My mom made wonton soup practically every night when we were kids. Like most moms, she had a day job and then came home to her second job as a full-time mom. I remembered how she quickly folded a couple of wontons and dropped them into a boiling soup pot just in time for dinner. Wonton soup was such a delicious way to start dinner.

If you have never had the pleasure, please do go out and try this. Wontons are little bite-sized dumplings usually filled with a mixture of meat and seafood. (In this case, chicken and shrimp.) The wonton wrapper is made of a thin dough similar to pasta but tastes much lighter. Wontons are often dropped directly into soup or pre-poached into boiling water before being added to a soup. A few minutes in a hot bath and they are transformed from smooth semi-opaque triangles into ruffled, translucent silky bundles.

Although it is an extra step, I prefer to cook them in boiling water first. Some wrappers are a bit starchy and may change the flavour and the consistency of the soup.

Admittedly, making a batch of wontons is a bit of work if you decide to make a full batch... However, if you are making just enough to a pot of soup, then once you make the filling it shouldn't take much longer to wrap a couple of wontons and throw them into a soup.(The filling should keep for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator.)

Alternatively, you can make the entire batch of wontons and freeze them. Once they are made, you can just plop them into a boiling broth and have wonton soup in minutes without having to defrost them first.

Wonton Soup

For the filling:
1/2 lb ground chicken
1/2 lb shrimp, chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced ginger
1/4 c water
salt & pepper to taste

1 package of wonton wrappers

For the soup:
750ml low sodium chicken broth
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil

optional: lightly beaten egg

1. Gently mix together the filling except the water. Meanwhile bring to a boil a small pot of water. using a teaspoon, drop a small meatball into the water once the water reaches a rolling boil. When the meatball floats to the top, leave in the water for an additional minute and scoop out onto a plate. Allow to cool. Taste meatball for seasoning and adjust accordingly. (Once you have made this recipe several times, you will find this added step is unnecessary.)

2. Once satisfied with seasonings for the filling, place a teaspoon of the mixture into the center of the wonton wrapper. Dip your finger into a small bowl of water and wet two adjoining sides (in an L-shape). Fold the opposite corner over until the edges meet and gently press the wonton closed, removing any air pockets. You will be left with a triangle shaped wonton. Place the wonton on a large platter and repeat until all the wonton wrappers or meat mixture is finished. Do not overlap the wontons on the platter. If you have additional meat left over, a great way to use them is to make tiny meatballs to add to your soup.

3. If you are not using the wontons immediately, lay the wontons out on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze for ten minutes. Then store the wontons in a freezer bag for later use.

For the soup:

1. Bring to a boil the chicken broth and green onions.

2. In another pot, bring water to a boil. One by one drop wontons into the water and stir to ensure the wontons do not stick together. Once the wontons, rise to the surface, scoop out the wontons and move to the pot with the boiling chicken broth. Reduce temperature and simmer for another 2 minutes.

3. If using, stir broth in the pot so that the liquid is squirling about. Gently pour the lightly beaten egg into the broth. After about five seconds, swirl a wooden spoon around the pot until the egg is cooked into whispy strands.

4. Remove from heat and add sesame oil. Serve immediately.

If you are serving this as an appetizer, it easily serves four people with about 5 wontons each. If you are having this as a main, it feeds 2-3 people with 8 to 10 wontons each.

For your own variations, you can experiment with different types of meat - pork or beef, or consider the additional of other seasonings including chili, white pepper, or five spice.
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