In one of my “Five Easy Resolutions for the New Year” series, I resolved to learn how to make wonton soup, and now I can check it off my list (though I will definitely be making it again, it was that good). I followed this recipe — Simple Wonton Soup from The Woks of Life blog — and followed it to a T, with the exception of using regular Japanese soy sauce instead of Seasoned Soy Sauce (a Chinese soy sauce that reportedly has a different flavor from the Kikoman soy sauce that most of us buy) and fresh-ground black pepper in place of white pepper. The recipe only calls for a very small amount of both these items, so I didn’t see the sense in purchasing new products when what I had on hand was close enough. I did, however, make a special trip to an Asian grocery store to purchase the specific type of wonton skins described in the recipe’s instructions, as well as a bottle of shaozing wine, which is a dark rice wine. You only use a tablespoon of the latter — it goes in the filling for the wontons — but as rice wine is quite different from most other wines, and distinctly Asian, it seemed essential to purchase it.
For the broth, I used my husband’s homemade turkey broth, which is slightly richer than chicken broth, but still a light broth. Homemade broth is, in my opinion, the only way to go for this recipe. Whereas the western tradition of soup-making typically involves incorporating a lot of ingredients into the broth — the diced vegetables and meats simmered in such soups flavor them to the degree that you can often get away with using a canned broth from the grocery store (especially if you’re also adding a cream to the base of the soup and pureeing it) — the Asian tradition is often towards a clear-brothed soup, and it’s essential for that broth to be tasty and stand-alone good. (A boxed or canned broth in this wonton soup would be too flat and wan-tasting.)
Even using the richer turkey broth (rather than chicken), my husband characterized this wonton soup as being “more delicate and also more complex” than the soup we get at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I’d have to agree — I have no complaints about the restaurant soup (it’s a favorite of mine), but this homemade version was more elegant in terms of its tastes. I’m glad I put it on my New Year’s Resolution list because I would never have gotten around to making it; I would have kept saying that I was going to do it someday, and then kept ignoring it in favor of making the steady rotation of soups that are already in my cooking repertoire because, you know, they’re easy. Not that making wonton soup is particularly difficult, but for someone unaccustomed to filling and folding dumplings, it was more time consuming than my normal style of cooking. I knew it would be, so I made it on a day when I had no other obligations and could relax. I set my computer and headphones on my workstation and listened to YouTube videos while I filled and shaped the wontons. Doing this reminded me of why I made my New Year’s Resolutions the way I did. When resolutions involve big changes or daunting challenges, chances are you won’t do them. I’d rather make a list of a bunch of things to incorporate in the year ahead, and have them be just challenging and out-of-the-ordinary enough that they get me out of my normal routine. And if they add an element of joy to my new year, all the better!
Tomorrow I’ll be posting my final installment of my “Five Easy Resolutions” series. I realize it’s the end of January and most people aren’t thinking about such things anymore, but I still am. 🙂