Nourishing Wonton Soup with Bok Choy, Shiitake & Enoki Mushrooms
I'm bringing back an old great favorite!
We should all know that a great soup begins with a great stock. This is even more true for clear soups because the basic flavor of the soup is the flavor of the stock. And there yet is another element that separates a great wonton soup from its lesser brethren - the wontons - most importantly, the thickness of the wonton wrapper. If the wonton wrapper is too thick, you are basically eating a lump of boiled dough.
Here is a classic example: try ordering wonton soup at one of the endless, fast-food /Sino-American joints that grace our neighborhoods. Most likely you'll find a very thick sheet of the wonton wrapper with minimal filling floating around in a clear soup with zero embellishments. Now, order it at an authentic Chinese restaurant and see the difference.
When a wonton is prepared in a paper-thin wonton wrapping and stuffed with a subtle flavorful filling that melts in your mouth the minute you bite into it, and the soup base is full of flavor with vegetables & mushrooms- then, my friend, you are experiencing a great wonton soup. Oh its good stuff!
By the way, know how Mr. Hubby & I tell an authentic Chinese restaurant from a Sino-American one? When we walk in and see that it is filled with Asian-Americans, we know we're in the right place.
Needless to say, wonton soup is one of my all-time favorite soups and it's really interesting to note that some of the literal translations of wonton soup in Mandarin & Cantonese are: irregularly shaped dumpling (Mandarin); swallowing cloud (Cantonese), and crossed hands (in Sichuan province).
There are subtle variations in the preparation of wonton soup from region to region - some with just pork, some with pork & shrimp, and some with bok choy. The wonton soup I prepare is a fusion of varied styles. For one, I love bok choy in the soup & that is characteristic of the Shanghai-style. I also fold the wonton using the 'chao shou (i.e crossed hands) and then I add Japanese Shiitake & Enoki mushrooms which, though not traditional to the recipe, I think is a wonderful addition to the soup with their meaty & earthy flavors & textures. To top it off, I add thin slices of barbecue-flavored cha-sui pork. I strongly recommend you begin by preparing and keeping chicken stock in the freezer at all times. It makes such a difference to the flavor of the soup.
One of the reasons I incorporate Shiitake & Enoki mushrooms into the soup is because we really must try to eat more of them in our diet. Both Shiitake & Enoki mushrooms are considered "superfoods," as they help in lowering cholesterol, fighting tumors & cancer. In short, we really do need to find more ways to eat these miracle workers of nature.
This is such a delicate, nourishing, feel-good soup and the stock is lovely with the fragrance of ginger. The wontons truly are like little drops of clouds and the mushrooms add a lovely texture while the bok choy adds the flavor of much-needed greens. It's hard not to be greedy when it comes to the cha sui slices - with their honey & anise flavors, a perfect finish to a lovely meal.
Honestly, can you say seventh heaven!
PS - Kids love it!
NOURISHING WONTON SOUP WITH BOK CHOY, SHIITAKE & ENOKI MUSHROOMSServes 4-6
Basic chicken stock -
14 cups water
2 lbs raw chicken bones or necks
1 yellow onion
3 stalks celery
1/2 tbs salt
If using store purchased chicken stock -
2 cartons chicken stock (not stock powder)
4-5 thin slices fresh ginger root
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbs vegetable oil
Wonton dumplings -
1/2 lb ground pork
2 stalks green onion with greens
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
28-30 thawed Asian wonton wrappers (thin flour pastry sheets)
1 tbs water
Wonton Soup -
1/2 bag or 12 stalks baby Shanghai bok choy
1 packet Enoki mushrooms
12 Shiitake mushrooms
1/4 lb Chinese barbecue pork, cha sui
1-1/2 tsp salt
Home made Chicken stock -
In a stockpot, place water with chicken bones (neck & other bones), peeled & quartered onion, celery stalks cut into chunks & salt.