Jan 25, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Won Ton Soup

As I post my final soup recipe for January, I thought I would end with an old family favorite: Won Ton Soup. 

First, a little back story: I grew up on the high plains of the midwest and the front range of the Rockies where cattle and wheat fields outnumbered people.  My earliest years were spent living in a culture heavily influenced by Dutch, German, Polish and Czechoslovakian immigrants. When we moved to southeastern Colorado,  the ethnic backdrop shifted dramatically:  mostly Hispanic, along with many Italian families whose parents and grandparents had ventured west to work the coal mines and railroads.  Everyone else was a smattering of this and that.  Our little town housed Germans and Italians during WWII and just east was a similar camp for Japanese. I have no idea how many of them remained after the war ended, but I didn't have any Asian classmates.

Even though I grew up in two very different melting pots, there were were no Japanese, Chinese, Thai or other Asian restaurants in my childhood towns. None.  Nada. Zip.  But my mom was an adventuresome cook and we enjoyed americanized Asian dishes like stir-fried vegetables, beef pepper steak (the canned variety and homemade), and Won Ton Soup.  She taught herself how to wrap the noodles around the pork filling and how long to cook them thoroughly without disentegrating.

When I married and moved to a college town, I suddenly had access to the entire spectrum of eateries.  And what I found was that my mom's recipe was pretty authentic, at least in comparison to your typical Asian take-out place.

Here's her version, which I have made countless times for my own family - I've even been asked to make it when someone has the sniffles. 

Mom's Won-Ton Soup
1/4 pound mild pork sausage (could substitute turkey sausage)
1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 package won ton wrappers
4 cups chicken broth
2 scallions, diced (include the green tops)

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sausage, ginger and soy sauce together - use your fingers to blend it well.  Place a half-teaspoon of filling in each square; fold to form a triangle and lightly wet the two edges of the triangle and smooth with your finger to make them stick together; be sure to press out any airbubbles around the filling as you go.  With the folded edge of your triangle pointing toward you, bring the two lower triangle points together and use a bit of water to get them to stick together.  Here are some tips on won ton folding plus variations if you want to go all fancy.

While making the won-tons, heat the broth in a large saucepan or 6-quart stockpot just to boiling.  Drop the won tons in the gently boiling broth and cook until they rise to the top, approximately 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with the diced scallions and ladle into serving bowls.  Makes 4-5 bowls.

Once you get the hang of folding the won tons, this is one of the fastest soups you can make for your family and is ready to eat immediately.  It's a light but filling soup, good for chasing away the sniffles and aches of a winter cold.

Happy cooking!

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