What is wonton soup
Wonton soup is a bouillon-like soup containing cooked, delicate wontons: dumplings filled with pork and/or shrimp mixed with some vegetables, soy sauce and sesame oil. Sometimes noodles or vegetables such as bok choy are added to the soup, often spring onions or chives are sprinkled over it.
Dumplings are small filled dough packages. Wontons are made with a thin, elastic wheat flour dough sheet and egg with a pork filling. Wontons differ from the average dumpling as the sheet is not round, but square and thinner, and the dough is folded around the filling. Japanese gyoza or Chinese jiaozi, for example, have a crescent shape and a pleated edge.
Wontons are a popular side dish in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Beijing and Shanghai. They are usually eaten in a clear soup, sometimes with extra noodles in it. From a technical point of view, any soup in which wontons are served can be called a wonton soup. The simplest and purest version is precisely the one we see on the menu of Chinese restaurants in Europe: wontons served in a chicken broth.
Did you know...
Originally from northern China, wontons have been cooked and eaten in soup for hundreds of years, especially around mid-winter. For Chinese, wonton soup is still a popular winter meal. In the past, the wonton was also a kind of medicine. The legendary doctor Zhang Zhongjing, one of the founders of Chinese medicine, stuffed wontons with medicinal herbs and handed them out to the poor to prevent frostbite in the winter.
A good wonton soup, like so many other Chinese dishes, starts with a great broth, preferably simmered for a few hours from a rich mixture of chicken, pork, seasonings such as ginger and spring onion, and Jinhua ham, a salted ham from Jinhua province, eaten since the tenth century BC.
The filling for the wontons – ground dried shrimps, minced pork, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and Chinese chives – is folded into square wonton skins and the wontons are then boiled for a few minutes with the broth. The soup is served with a sprinkling of Chinese chives or spring onions.
How to eat
You eat wonton soup from a bowl, with an earthenware soup spoon in one hand and chopsticks in the other. Scoop the wontons from the soup with your chopsticks and eat the liquid with the spoon. Easy.
If you eat this soup mainly for the delicious dumplings, then Chinese cuisine has plenty more to offer: dumplings and dim sum! People eat gyoza in Japan; Indian cuisine features deep-fried dumplings known as pangsit goreng.