swallowing clouds

tonight we had wonton soup for dinner.  i experimented with a recipe i found in the 'essentials of asian cooking' by williams-sonoma, memories of the wonton soup my mom made growing up, and what we had on hand.  the cookbook is where i learned that the word wonton literally means to "swallow a cloud."  i like that, especially when it comes in a bowl of steaming hot, flavorful soup during a winter ice-storm.

here's the recipe:

1 pkg wonton skins/wrappers
box of chicken broth
6 C water
1 egg
1/2 lb ground beef (or any other ground meat or tofu)
fresh ginger, sliced
2 carrots, diced
1.5 C shitake mushrooms, diced
3 green onions
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tb each sesame oil and mirin
2 Tb light soy sauce
pinch of sugar
salt to taste (i used garlic sea salt)
white pepper to taste

cook the ground beef with 1 clove of minced garlic until no longer pink.  put the mushrooms, a couple of slices of ginger, one clove of minced garlic, handful of chopped green onions and diced carrots into a chopper or food processor.    pulse until it's coursely blended.  combine the ground beef with the veggie mixture and add the egg.  meanwhile, put broth and added water into a large pot.  add more slices of ginger and another clove of garlic, the rest of the green onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, salt and white pepper.  simmer over low heat.

while the broth simmers, assemble the wontons.  i like to have a small cup/bowl of water to wet my fingers and dab the moisture on the edge of the wonton skins as an adhesive.  put about a tablespoon or so in the middle of the wonton, fold it in half over the mixture and press skin together tightly, trying to get as much air out as possible without cracking the skin.  take the corners of the now folded wonton and press them into each other so that the wonton looks like a chubby little man whose hands are clasped (with a triangular head).  do this until you have the desired number or wontons.  this can be a great family activity if you have kids who are old enough to help in the kitchen.  bring the broth to a boil, then carefully add the wontons with a slotted spoon, add the spinach leaves and then let the wontons rise to the surface and simmer for about 5-7 min.  and there you have it: your own clouds to swallow.

*if i make the soup again, i will add shredded cabbage and tofu to the mix but the ingredient list above, being what we had on hand, worked well.