When I made Alton Brown's Feta and Artichoke Wontons a few days ago, did I mention I made like 40 of them? Because we did. Jeff has had a few for lunch, and I took a whole Glad container full home with me to use as leftovers for something. Not too long after I then decided that something would be Wonton Soup.
Most of America is experiencing very cold weather still. It's not too cold here, but chillier than other seasons, so that still means soup to me! Wonton Soup was never my favourite, I usually prefer Hot and Sour or Egg Drop, but if you have wontons.... Anyway, the idea was definitely a fancy tickler.
Of course, these wontons were artichoke and feta stuffed, and thus decidedly Mediterranean in my mind. I didn't really want to combine it with classic Asian flavours, but I wanted to make a western spin on something eastern, and so I thought long on flavours that would combine well but still be similar. I thought back to the last wonton soup I had, which contained shitake mushrooms (I think) as well as a few shredded carrots and maybe some peas. Once, long ago, I had some with bok choy.
This led me to thinking about things I've wanted to try recently, that of which is Kale. I keep reading Kale this, Kale that, so I thought... well, kale would be a good addition. It will sub for the bok choy, it will be nice and light but super healthy-- and it's a winter green! Perfect!
I also used criminis, to sub for shitakes, which I cut into quarters. To compliment their meatiness I added mustard (the idea stolen from Bread & Honey). For the artichoke and to give it a bit more tang I added lemon. To still give it an eastern flair I thought to add tamari and soy sauce and ginger. I thought, to finish it off, serving it over fresh basil leaves would be delightful. Thus I created an Italian Wonton Soup.
I don't like buying big carrots unless it's for something specific. I find I don't eat them. So I always purchase a big bag of baby carrots which I bring to work with me a lot and for soups and sides I cut them into pieces. To "julienne" carrots I basically half a baby carrot, then quarter it, then eighth it. Tada! Manageable pieces. This isn't typical, of course, and not actually julienned. But it works for me!
Anywho, the soup turned out super flavourful. The wontons were less rich when in the soup, which was a good thing-- they were almost too rich to eat on their own and toning them down made my stomach happy.
While I was cooking I kept thinking the broth needed something. I couldn't find the soy sauce at first so I subbed some Worcestershire, which I love to use anyway-- then it still wasn't really salty enough (I used an extremely low sodium organic free range chicken broth). So I found the soy sauce and used some of that. In the end, it worked out really well, the broth was rich and flavourful, flavoured in part by the feta that spilled from the wontons that soon unwravelled in the broth. There were pieces of artichokes and bacon, and the carrots added a sweet touch. The kale was a good leaf to provide, the basil was a bright burst of flavour whenever chomped.
The mushrooms were meaty and the soup was extremely filling. This made probably two very full bowls, which Jeff nor I could finish. I have leftovers for lunch today at work. I didn't really search up Italian Wonton Soup so I'm not sure how common it is, but it is worth a try. If you feel like subbing an ingredient or striking one all together, go for it-- I was sort of playing chemist while making this, and since it turned out good I just used every step I did. Normally I cut down things to make it more manageable if I added too much stuff that I don't think was necessary, but I'm really not sure what changing various ingredients would do. Probably not much, but it was super good as it was.
This was also my first time using Chicken Broth in a long while. Usually I get the big yellow canister of Chicken Stock but they didn't have it at Whole Foods and I was too lazy to go to Ralph's. Sigh. I think I prefer stock, it's more flavourful to me. Broth seems like water?
(Italian) Wonton Soup
1 cup julienned baby carrots
3/4 cup onion slices
3 large kale leaves
1/2 cup quartered mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 quart chicken broth
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon lite soy sauce
a splash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
about 14 artichoke and feta wontons
salt and pepper to taste
a small handful of basil leaves
In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and a small sprinkle of salt and cook until the onions are fragrant and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, then add in the chicken broth, lemon juice, tamari, and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and mustard. After a few minutes of cooking, tear up the kale leaves, leaving them stems, and add them to the soup mixture as well. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the precooked wontons. Keep until just warm, and serve warm over freshly torn basil leaves.
Edit: Thinking back, I was going to add wine to the broth to give it some pop but forgot, and used other things instead. Someone should try this and tell me how it is, or I'll just wait until the next batch. :D