Soup of the Week: Fake it ’til You Make a Better Wonton Soup

To my mind, wonton soup is one of the soups to end all soups. I didn’t even know what a really good bowl of wonton soup was until well into my 20s and, even after learning that, I still go rushing for the pot of watered down stuff at Chinese buffets like it was my last meal. Stuff the bowl with a bunch of wonton, add a little broth, soya and hot sauce and I’m in bliss.

When I did learn all about what a really good bowl of wonton soup was, my mind was blown. I was in college and invited into the home of one of my study pals whose grandmother presented us with great bowls of wonton soup. The wonton were not homemade that time, but there were the thinnest bits of ginger and garlic and carrot and leafy greens floating around in the most delicious, delicate, but favourful, coat-yer-lips and warm-yer-tum, put-love-in-yer-heart broth I’d ever had. It was life-changing.

The recipe I am about to share is not that, but it is a way of making something close to that when you’re craving a bowl of amazing wonton soup and don’t have the time to put into creating a grandma-worthy stock from scratch. It also makes a great big batch that goes together in about half an hour and the whole pot will cost you less than ordering in.

A word about wonton: you can, of course, make your own wonton and that will elevate your soup, but I want you to be aware that there’s some really good frozen wonton out there. Our local Asian grocer has some excellent handmade, but frozen wonton, but these guys are actually really great, too:

They have great flavour and texture and they’re a whole three clams for a package of 15. They also come in vegan form filled with vegetables that are also rather good. I highly recommend keeping a bag or two in your freezer because why reinvent the wheel?

What you need:

  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger root, finely sliced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, smashed and finely sliced
  • 3 bird’s eye chilies, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 liters of chicken or veg stock (homemade is great, but the boxed kind can work, too)
  • 1 liter of cold water
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1″ chunk of yellow rock sugar
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 2 cups of leafy greens (cabbage, spinach, bok choi, kale, etc – or some combination thereof), cut into fine strips
  • 1 cup of now peas
  • 1 bunch of scallions, finely sliced
  • As many wonton as your wee heart desires, but count on serving about 5 per bowl if you’re serving this as a meal
  • Soya sauce, hot sauce, and more black pepper for serving

What you do:

  1. In a large pot over medium-low heat, toast the white pepper until fragrant.
  2. To the pot, add the oil, onions, ginger, garlic and bird’s eye peppers and cook just until fragrant.
  3. Add the stock, water, rice vinegar and sugar and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, and in a separate pot, cook your wonton according to package instructions (usually in boiling water for about 5 minutes) and set aside.
  5. After the stock has simmered for 20 minutes, taste test the stock and add water or salt (not forgetting that those eating the soup will have the option to add a soya sauce to their own bowls upon serving) accordingly. If you have added water, allow the stock to get hot again before adding the remaining ingredients.
  6. Stir in the leafy greens and snow peas and cook for about 2 minutes.
  7. Place a few wonton in each eater’s bowl, then top with piping hot stock and veg and a smattering of the scallions. Eaters can season their own bowls with soya sauce, pepper, or hot sauce according to their tastes.

 

 

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