Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Weeknight Meal: Wonton Soup

One of the advantages of growing up with a number of Asian friends is that I learned early on to make wontons (and Chinese dumplings) by the time I was a teenager. Now I'm not claiming that what I make is completely authentic, but it is fresh. My kids' favorite homemade soup is wonton soup (although they are also partial to homemade cream of tomato soup). It's one of those things that I don't have or follow a recipe for. It changes depending upon what I have on hand and how strong I want it to taste. But I made it for dinner tonight, and here's the basics.

For the wontons:
Buy pre-made wonton wrappers. I'm all for homemade, but let's not go crazy here. I can usually find them in the grocery store around here. If all they've got is eggroll wrappers, just get those and cut them in half. They're made out of the same stuff.

Today I used about 1/2 pound of ground pork. You can also use ground chicken or shrimp, or some combination. I have a meat grinder attachment for my mixer, so for chicken or shrimp I grind my own.

Flavorings-- today I used about
1 T soy sauce
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (I like to use a microplane grater)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 green onions, using about the bottom two inches, chopped fairly fine

You can vary the recipe to suit your own tastes. Mix it all up well. Then make the wontons. There's lots of youtube videos out there for how to make wontons, but this one is pretty much what I do, except I use just plain water, rather than egg yolk, to seal it.

And now you've got your wontons! These are mine. I made about 60. Once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty fast.

Now, for the soup. If I wanted to go REALLY homemade, I'd use homemade chicken stock. I happen to be out at the moment, so I used the big carton of Swanson's chicken broth.

48oz or more chicken broth (about 6 cups)
1 T nam pla (fish sauce--nam pla is the Thai name, nuoc mam is the Vietnamese name), or more to taste
2 T soy sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions
2 julienned carrots

Again, you're really just flavoring it in a way which tastes good to you. I like the slightly sweet yet meaty taste the fish sauce gives the broth, but you can totally skip it if you don't have any, or if the thought of fish sauce makes you recoil. Same thing with the soy sauce--you could just go for a plain clear chicken broth (which is probably more authentic anyway) and it would be good. You can also throw whatever veggies you want in there--my kids like it pretty simple. I also like to add mung bean sprouts, but I was out. Bring to a slow boil and add the wontons. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until cooked through.

Helpful hint--if you boil them too hard or cook the soup with the lid on, your wontons will blow up like little balloons and some wrappers will spit out their little meatballs. I've made this mistake plenty of times, so I know whereof I speak. Unless you're into wonton balloons, in which case be my guest.

Finally, spoon out the soup. Make sure you give yourself plenty of wontons! And get seconds before the kids start lurking to see how many wontons are left so they can steal them.


  1. Hmmmmm. Actually seems doable even for a cook who's a cook only be necessity!

  2. A nice memory for mother's day - making won tons with Mom while watching John Wayne movies.