The other day I went to the store and felt a hint of kinetic excitement brewing in my gut. It happens every year, just when I feel like my general enthusiasm has waned, hints of spring arrive. All over social media I see people celebrating that spring has sprung and I cling to the lingering crone of winter, thinking, “I’m not ready yet.” And then it happens. Thick rods of asparagus appear standing guard like soldiers over the other vegetables. Artichokes, bulbous and blooming, casually assert themselves. Bright red radishes shine like rubies among green emeralds and morels with fissures like the brain spring from the earth like firing synapses. Even the fish counter reflects the earliest signs of shad fish breeding, cockles and soft shell crabs. Something in me slowly melts and I begin to celebrate too. At one point, while cutting up a fennel I even ran into the other room and waved it in my husband’s face, with its alien hairy tubes and sweet licorice scent exclaiming, “Can you believe this actually exists?!” That’s the kind of excitement we’re talking about here, folks.
We’re still in the early parts of spring, but, oh things are about to get good. That is a cause for celebration. And so when I saw this spring wonton soup on Kathleen’s blog, I knew it was something I wanted to try. Folding wontons has always intimidated me, but really, it couldn’t be easier. She has a video tutorial that shows how easy this is and it’s actually kind of cathartic when you get into a rhythm. I used chicken and arugula in my fillings, but the combinations are endless.
Putting these wontons together reminded me what an act of faith cooking something or doing something out of your wheelhouse is. Like any other act of creation, it requires a kind of persistence, fosters personal growth and demands some sort of hope. And it results in expansion and breadth, of thought, of knowledge, of self, really… kind of like springtime!
SPRING WONTON SOUP
Adapted closely from Hapa Nom Nom
For the Broth:
- 8 cups good quality chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 inch piece ginger, thinly sliced
For the Wontons:
- 2 scallions, white and green parts separated
- ½ teaspoon ginger, finely grated (if you don’t grate it you’ll get a big overwhelming bite of ginger, guaranteed)
- 1 large garlic clove
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 ounces ground chicken
- ½ cup arugula
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounce package of square wonton wrappers
- all-purpose flour for dusting
- 1 small bunch asparagus, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ⅔ cup spring peas
In a large sauce pan, add the broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sliced ginger. Bring the contents to a boil and then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In a food processor – add the white parts of the scallions and the remaining ingredients for the wonton filling. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until finely chopped and fully incorporated.
Cover the stack of wonton wrappers with a slightly damp paper towel, prepare a small bowl of water for sealing the wrappers, and lightly sprinkle a baking sheet with flour. Working with one wrapper at a time, place 1 level teaspoon of filling in the bottom third of the wrapper. Roll the bottom a ⅓ of the way up and then again another ⅓ of the way up. Leave the last ⅓ of the wrapper sticking up. Then taking one of your fingers, dip it in the water and dab the two bottom corners. Bring those two bottom corners together and press to seal. (Check out the video above for the how-to visual). Place the completed wontons on the prepared baking sheet and be sure to keep them covered under a slightly damp paper towel.
To cook the wontons, bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil.
Once the pot of water comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer. (You don’t want the agitation of the bubbles to break open the wontons). When all of the wontons are completed add them to the pot of water and cook until they float to the top. Be sure to give them a gentle stir when you first add them to make sure they don’t stick.
While the wontons are cooking, remove the slices of ginger from the broth and reheat. Once it comes back to a boil add the asparagus and peas – cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon or spider, remove the wontons and divided them evenly among the bowls. Pour the broth with the veggies over top and garnish with the remaining sliced scallions (green parts). Serve immediately and enjoy!
- Even though you’re placing the wonton filling in the food processor, make sure you still finely grate the ginger. It will insure that you don’t bite into any large chunks.
- If you’d like, you can use ground pork or tofu instead of chicken.
- You can make the wontons ahead of time and freeze for up to 2 months. Simply lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a zip-top bag.
- If you’re not eating them immediately, but don’t want to freeze, cover in an airtight container and refrigerate until you’re ready to use them for up to a day or two.
- If you don’t want to put them in soup and just eat them alone, do so! Just boil them until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, or steam them until cooked. Serve with vegetables.