Just like takeout, only better.
Wonton soup seems like one of those beloved-by-all recipes that just can’t be as good as what you get at the restaurant. Something about the mysterious filling and the potentially complex dumpling folds can feel like something best left to the pros. But no! This homemade wonton soup recipe shows that you can make wonton soup at home that tastes just like the restaurant kind, only better.
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According to a national survey, wonton soup ranks among the top five most popular Chinese restaurant dishes, along with egg rolls, crab Rangoon, and General Tso’s chicken. (Fried rice comes in at number six.) Suffice it to say, we love wonton soup.
And why not? Dumplings are one of life’s perfect foods: hot, delicious filling encased in soft wrappers like little personal food gifts. Dumpling soups, like wonton, go the extra step by adding hot broth to make it a warm and satisfying meal.
Recipe Notes: Homemade Wonton Soup
As you will see, I use a couple of non-Chinese ingredients, like mirin (a subtlety sweet wine), and rice vinegar, both of which are Japanese. But they add just the right flavor, so I embrace the Asian fusion aspect here.
Wonton wrappers are widely available. I found a pack at my local Giant and Safeway. If you can’t find them in your supermarket, seek out any Asian grocery store.
Homemade wontons are surprisingly easy to make, though you do need to remember a few key tips and techniques.
- If using frozen shrimp, make sure they are thawed and patted dry
- Brush the edges of the wonton wrappers with water to make them stick
- Don’t overfill the wontons. You need to ensure that they close properly and cook easily.
Finally, do not be tempted to cook the wontons in the pot of broth. Technically, you could do this. But I do not recommend it. Instead, cook the dumplings in lightly-salted boiling water, then add the cooked dumplings to the broth.
Why? A separate pot keeps the broth clear. The dumplings, while cooking, will release some of the flour and cornstarch they’ve been dusted with, clouding the liquid. Adding cooked dumplings to broth keeps the broth clear.
Finally, you don’t actually need to make these wontons into soup. They are absolutely delicious on their own, perhaps with a little chili oil or soy sauce for dipping, garnished with scallions.
Did you make homemade wonton soup? How was it?
Homemade Wonton Soup
For the Wontons
- 30 wonton wrappers
- 1/2 pound fresh ground pork
- 1/4 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (if frozen, thaw and pat dry)
- 1-inch knob peeled fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch red pepper flakes
For the Broth and to Finish
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 quarts unsalted chicken stock (I like Swanson's)
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 scallions, sliced thin on the diagonal, to garnish
- a few handfuls of fresh spinach or chopped bok choy, optional
For the Wontons
- In a food processor, combine the shrimp, ginger, and shallot. Lightly process into a chunky paste. Combine in a mixing bowl with the ground pork, soy sauce, mirin, salt, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes.
- Working several at a time, lay a few wonton wrappers on a clean countertop or flat surface. Keep the remaining stack of wonton wrappers loosely covered with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Lightly brush the four edges of the wonton rappers with water and spoon about a tablespoon of filling into the center of each.
- Fold the wontons in half into a triangle. Make sure no air gets trapped inside and that the edges are fully sealed. Then, fold the left and right corners across the center of the dumpling and press them together, like arms crossed. You will need to dab them with water to make the "arms" stick together. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
- Bring a medium pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. Gently drop a number of dumplings (about 8 to 10 at a time) into the water and boil for about 5 minutes, until they float and are fully cooked. Use a slotted spoon to place them in a shallow bowl as you repeat until all the dumplings are cooked.TIP: You will probably not need all of these dumplings for the soup. You can make them all and enjoy the extra on their own, or freeze about 10 of them, raw, for another time.
For the Broth and to Finish
- Combine the 2 cups water, stock, ginger, soy sauce, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
- Add about 20 dumplings to the soup -- or more if you want, because they're just that good. If using, add the bok choy and spinach and let wilt before ladling into bowls and garnishing with fresh scallions.