Easy Wonton Noodle Soup Recipe
+ Ever-Green Vietnamese book tour info + wonton folding tutorial
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Ever-Green Vietnamese Book Tour Update
Before presenting the won ton recipe, I want you to know that there may be opportunities for us to meet up in person this spring. My publisher and I are planning the Ever-Green Vietnamese book tour. Things are still unfolding but for sure, I’ll be doing in-person events in the S. F. Bay Area, New York, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and Los Angeles. There will be book talks, demos, dinners, and casual meet-and-greets. Because touring is expensive, I’ll do my best to do virtual events too!
For a closer look at what’s between the covers, peruse the Ever-Green Vietnamese preview page at my website.
Pre-order the book and hold on to your ordeing info because we’ll announce pre-order bonuses for you. Along with online options, consider supporting your local indie bookshop or a cookbook shops such as Book Larder (5/24 event in Seattle), Kitchen Arts and Letters, Bold Fork Books, Now Serving LA, and Omnivore Books (4/26 event in San Francisco). I hope to do events with all of these shops and will announce them all. Thanks for your interest.
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Easy Wonton Noodle Soup
Hot, brothy and filled with plump wontons and springy noodles — wonton noodle soup is a comforting bowl that you’ll want to cuddle up with. I've eaten it at small restaurants and soup joints in America and abroad. It’s cozy, familiar, and fun. Most Vietnamese folks know the bowl of wonton deliciousness as mì hoành thánh and mì vằn thắn. You can doll it up with char siu pork but honestly, I'd rather load up the bowl with slippery savory wontons.
In Cantonese, wontons are called wantan (云吞 in simplified Chinese; 雲吞 in traditional Chinese). The term literally means “cloud swallow”, which describes how they float like clouds when poaching.
When I want the ultimate wonton soup I use from scratch broth and fresh noodles. But on a regular basis I take shortcuts with canned broth and dried noodles instead of fresh. I also make wontons from one single meat — pork or chicken, instead of doing a more fanciful surf-and-turf combo filling. All of that allows me to put together a wonderful bowl of wonton-y goodness in about a quarter of the time it otherwise would take. This easy wonton soup is a great way to practice some fundamentals, too. Are you ready? Here we go!
Wonton Noodle Soup Timing
Here's how you can plan things to bring your bowls together fast:
Keep wonton skins in the freezer for up to 6 months. Once thawed and opened, use the package up within 2 weeks. Yes it keeps that long. As an experiment, I recently froze a partly used package of skins and they thawed beautifully. So, you don’t even have to use the entire package all at once.
Maintain a supply of canned broth. The shortcut below is about doctoring up purchased broth. Have no shame.
Use dried noodles. They last indefinitely in the pantry and you don't have to thaw them. Shop for Chinese wheat noodles at the supermarket or an Asian market. I keep a package of these handy. Instant ramen will do in a pinch.
Include any vegetable. Gailan is standard but you may swap in broccolini or broccoli. Carrot, boy choy, mushroom, cabbage (Chinese/napa or regular green) — the vegetables add flavor, nutrients, color, and texture. It’s your choice.
Apply a 3-day fridge rule. The broth -- made from canned chicken broth -- will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, if you want to prep ahead. Ditto for the raw filling. Ditto for boiling up the noodles (toss them in a little oil to prevent sticking).
Bank your efforts. You may shape and freeze wontons for up to 3 months. Put them on a flour-dusted baking sheet without touching, freeze, then transfer to an airtight container.
Extra Flavor Source: Shrimp
If you add some dried shrimp to my shortcut broth, you'll add piscine elegance to the bowl. The shrimp lend complexity. I added some to the broth, then fished them out to put them atop my greens to make a side dish. Dried shrimp is sold at Chinese and Southeast Asian markets. I favor ones from Louisiana. These were a souvenir from my trip to New Orleans.
Wonton Shape Options: Messy or Fancy
You have options. How you shape wontons simply depends on your detexerity and patience. The “Messy” is the easy shape that you sort of squish and fold into itself to seal. I make a lot of messies.
Want to do more? I dug up this old video from 2009, when my Asian Dumplings book released. The moves remain the same, but I have aged.
When I teach dumpling classes, I remind people to just make sure to get the filling in the wrapper. And, don’t overfill.
2-Pot Cooking Method
Because the wontons and noodles release a lot of starch, cook them in a separate pot of water from the broth. Adding them to the broth clouds and thickens things up. You don’t want that. You worked so hard to get here. “Cloud swallows” is about the dumpling, not about cloudy broth.
So, if you play your cards right, you can prep the soup, filling and such one day and enjoy it for many days thereafter. That's how things go down in my house — where we're working from home and want satisfying, nourishing meals without the stress of putting things together from A to Z every time.
Below are the recipe and printable PDF. Make lots of wonton noodle soup soon!
Easy Wonton Noodle Soup
Among canned broth, I favor Swansons. It’s readily available and has a relatively clean flavor. If you have homemade stock, use it instead.
Serves 4 to 6
8 ounces ground pork or chicken
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion (green and white parts)
Rounded 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 pinches recently ground black or white pepper, plus more as needed
8 cups lightly salted canned chicken broth
4 quarter-sized slices of ginger, each as thick as a bean sprout, bruised
2 green onions, cut into 2-inch lengths and smashed
1 tablespoon dried shrimp (optional)
Regular soy sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons organic granulated sugar or agave syrup optional
40 to 48 square wonton skins, about 3 inches wide
12 ounces gailan, baby bok choy, carrot, green beans, chard or a combination, cut into bite-size pieces
12 ounces dried, thin Chinese (Hong Kong-style) egg noodles
Toasted sesame oil or chile oil
Make the wonton filling
Combine the pork, green onion, cornstarch, salt, sugar, and pepper. Vigorously stir with a fork or chopsticks to combine well. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to days). You should have about 1 cup.
Make the broth
Bring the chicken broth, ginger, smashed green onion, and dried shrimp to a boil in a pot over high heat. Lower the heat to gently simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and retrieve the solids. Partly cover, cool and refrigerate if not using immediately.
Fill and shape the wontons
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and generously dust with cornstarch. Set up a wonton making station with the wrappers, a bowl of water and brush. Working in batches of 5 or 6 wonton wrappers, brush water on the edges of each wrapper, then fill with about 1 teaspoon of filling. Make your favorite shape or use the photos and video above.
Place the wontons on the lined baking sheet, with none touching. When done, loosely cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Refrigerate overnight or freeze until hard and then transfer to an airtight container to freeze for up to 1 month (partially thaw for 15 minutes before cooking).
Cook the noodles
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and bring to a boil, cook for about 1 minute, then drain, rinse with water to remove excess starch, then divide among six bowls. If prepping ahead, lightly coat in oil to prevent sticking, cool, then refrigerate.
Poach wontons, finish the broth, and assemble bowls
Reuse the same big pot to cook the wontons. Fill it halfway with water and set over high heat. Meanwhile, return the broth to a boil, then add the vegetables and lower the heat to simmer and keep hot.
When the water for the wontons comes to a boil, add the wontons to the large pot of boiling water, dropping each in and nudging it to prevent sticking. Once they float to the top, let cook for 1 to 2 minutes until translucent and plump, then use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer to the 4 to 6 bowls, dividing them equally.
Scoop up the vegetables from the broth and divide among the bowls. Taste the broth and add about 1 tablespoon soy sauce to add extra umami depth and season with the sugar or agave syrup to create a salty-sweet-umami finish. If more saltiness is needed, add salt (soy sauce darkens the broth too much. Bring the broth to a boil then ladle it over the noodles, wontons, and vegetables. Finish with a pinch of pepper. Drizzle on sesame oil (or chile oil). Serve immediately.
Variation: Instead of ground meat, use finely chopped raw shrimp (add the shells to the broth for super flavor!).
I made the wonton noodle soup for date night tonight (we alternate cooking something special for each other once a week); so good and filling and it only took 45 minutes. I had homemade chicken stock and used broccolini for the vegetable, and I got some fresh Hong Kong style noodles at HMart last week which fit in perfectly. The pork filling was delicious and we look forward to trying the shrimp variation next time. My husband was impressed!
That video showing different ways to fold wonton is very helpful. Should I also wet the areas that need to stick together with some water for better adhesion? I thought I remember my Grandma teaching me to do that.