Monday, October 11, 2010

Wonton Soup

Wonton soup is the perfect meal for many occasions; it’s great for when you want something hot, something light, or something filling. It somehow manages to accomplish all of these things while also being healthy and delicious. Clearly, wonton soup is one of those things I was going to have to adjust for a vegan diet, if I was going to continue to be a happy herbivore. I got the inspiration for these when I made the eggplant meatballs a few weeks ago. I was amazed, and a little grossed out, by how truly meaty the meatballs were, and wondered how else this might be used. When I first became vegan, I tried to make wonton soup, and it was disgusting, almost inedible. But, it taught me a few very important lessons.

First, not all dumplings are created equal. I initially used frozen, pre-made dumplings for my soup, and they were okay, but nothing special. I have since discovered Trader Joe’s vegetable gyoza which are crispy, light, and loaded with good ginger flavor. So now, I eat those when I want a quick dumpling. But to make my wonton soup spectacular, I knew I would have to start from scratch.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium eggplant unpeeled and diced in 1/4” to 1/2” cubes
6 green onions chopped finely
3/4 cup walnuts
Salt and pepper
2 cups dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup firm tofu, processed until smooth
8 water chestnuts chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 inches of ginger grated finely
1/4 cup carrot very finely minced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 pound fresh wrappers (These are most easily found at a Chinese market; be sure they don’t contain egg. Don’t worry if you can only find potsticker or shu mai wrappers. They work just fine)

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the eggplant and cook until it is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the green onion and cook briefly. Transfer into a large bowl.

Process the walnuts with one cup of the eggplant and onion mixture. Pulse until smooth. Return to the eggplant mixture. Add the bread crumbs, tofu, water chestnuts, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and cornstarch and mix thoroughly with a fork, taking care not to smush the mixture. Taste for salt and pepper (don’t worry! there’s no raw meat or eggs in this)

Lay wonton wrapper flat. Scoop 1/2 tablespoon (roughly) of filling into the center of the wrapper. With your finger, paint fresh water along 1/2 of the outer edge of the wrapper. Fold wrapper in half and press edges together firmly. Now, wet the two corners of your half circle, fold them toward each other, and pinch them together. Repeat. Place prepared wontons on wax or parchment paper to keep from sticking.

Check back tomorrow for vegetable broth and finishing your soup!

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