Aug 8, 2012

Vegetarian Wonton Soup Recipe

When I was 11, I made the horrifying discovery of a purplish rubbery tendon in my chicken sandwich at a fast food place. Since then, I've been a steadfast vegetarian. It wasn't very hard, I never really liked meat anyway (something about the texture makes me feel ick). I did go through a brief period in college when I would eat chicken on a dare, but that was always more out of my challenge-y side than out of appetite. For the most part, I've stayed true to my vegetarianism, or rather ovo-lacto-pescatarianism (eggs, dairy, fish). There were only a handful of meaty foods I actually missed when I stopped eating meat, all of them yummy memories of my childhood: tamales at New Year's with my Hispanic family side, lumpia and wonton soup at the Asian family side. I've found some substitutes in fancy-pancy grocery stores and in some amazing food carts (gotta love the Pacific Northwest), but few have stood up to the homemade goodiness of my grandmothers. Being far from home and all my family, sometimes all I really need are the flavors of my childhood.
And necessity is the mother of invention, no? While I was making the baked crab rangoon, I ended up with a lot of left over wonton wrappers. I had an epiphany right there and then that DUH, I had wontons, I should make a vegetarian wonton soup! Like any good kitchen scientist turned nostalgic home chef, I experimented with all the flavors combos I've seen online and the ones I loved as a kid. Actually, my favorite food, to this day, is white rice with soy sauce and vinegar. OH MY GOODNESS, I could die for a warm plate of rice and soy soy. Anyway, I digress. I worked out a marinated tofu using the ingredients my gramma puts in her lumpia dipping sauce plus a couple of other asian style ingredients I've collected recently. The marinated tofu goes into the wontons, and everything is cooked in vegetable broth with some fresh produce to make a really satisfying dinner. So the thing about this recipe, it works out to A LOT of wonton soup - enough for a family with seconds and leftovers. At this time, I myself am not family-sized; it's just me and the cat, and I don't think she'll like this soup very much. I ended up making all the marinated tofu, but putting only about 1/3 of it into wontons. I kept the rest in the jar I marinated it in, and I figured it might be cool to try the tofu out in different recipes, maybe fried and as a filler for some homemade Naan, Asian fusion-style? I also only made enough actual soup for just one bowl, I froze 8 wontons in wax paper and put 4 in my soup so I wouldn't have any soggy leftovers.

Marinated Tofu

Download a printable recipe card here
Things you'll need:
  • Marinade:
    • 1/4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, but I would have used rice vinegar if I had it)
    • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp sesame oil (but you can use whatever oil you have on hand)
    • 2 tsp brown sugar
    • 1 tsp oyster sauce (a little goes a long way)
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tb diced red onion
    • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pkg (1 lb drained) extra firm tofu (I used Azumaya)
  • paper towels
  • clean kitchen towel
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • jar with a lid
  • heavy-ish book

First Step: Drain the tofu, a quick How-To

Drain the tofu by poking a hole in the plastic cover on the package and pouring the water down the sink (or whatever way works best for you). Make a pad of 3 - 4 paper towels. Place the drained block of tofu on the pad and cover with another pad of 3 - 4 paper towels. Press down on the block gently, firmly and evenly to squeeze out the excess water, until the paper towels are soaked. Remove the tofu to a new dry pad of paper towels. I like to wrap mine up like a little present, partly because it will keep the tofu from smashing all over the place and partly because I like presents. Wrap the toweled tofu in a kitchen towel and carefully place a heavy book over the whole thing. Make sure the book is pressing down on the tofu evenly. Let this sit for 30 minutes.     Meanwhile, mix all the marinade ingredients into the jar, over with the lid and shake shake shake it to combine. When the 30 minutes for the tofu is up, remove its wrappings and book, and cut it into roughly one-inch squares.  Put the squares into the jar (pack em tight!) and shake shake shake the jar again to coat the tofu. Stick the jar in the fridge for at least an hour, in which time you are free to do whatever :D   When the tofu is finished marinating, put 1/4 to 1/2 cup in a hot pan and fry until slightly browned (don't add any oil, the sesame oil in the marinade will help the tofu cook). While the tofu cooks, smash it with a spatula or wooden spoon into small chunks. Remove the tofu from the pan and place in a bowl to cool just enough so you can handle it while filling the wontons. Prepare your cooking stage as an assembly line to construct the wontons: bowl with the tofu, wonton wrappers, tiny saucer of water, a working plate, and a set-aside plate for finished wontons. To make the wontons, hold a wonton wrapper in your open palm, oriented like a diamond so one corner is pointed toward you. Place about one to two teaspoons of the smashed tofu in the center of the wrapper. With a finger of your unoccupied hand, dip into the water and paint just a little water on the edges of the wrapper furthest from you. Carefully bring up the corner closest two you over the filling to meet its opposite and form a triangle pouch. Press the edges together; the water makes the wonton wrapper sticky to itself. Next, wet the tip of one of the corners of the triangle. Bring the opposite corner around and stick it to the wet corner. They kind of look like little tortellinis. Set finished wontons aside on the plate, and continue wrapping until all the tofu is gone (about 32 wontons).      You can use these wontons fresh as they are in wonton soup, you can pan fry them like gyoza (although they're not really the right shape), you might even be able to bake them as dumplings. If you are not ready to use the wontons right away, you can wrap them in wax paper and freeze them for up to one week. Nutritional Information: Marinated Tofu Wontons- Recipe makes 8 servings;  Per serving - Calories: 108.6, Total Fat: 6.7 g, Sat. Fat: 0.8 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.8 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2.1 g, Cholesterol: 2.8 mg, Sodium: 341 mg, Total Carbs.: 21.8 g, Fiber: 1.2 g, Sugar: 4.7 g, Protein: 5.3 g


Vegetarian Wonton Soup

Download a printable recipe card here Things you'll need:
  • 32 marinated tofu wontons
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 green onion stalks, chopped
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 4 medium crimini mushrooms washed and sliced
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
In a sauce pan, add 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Add in garlic and fry until browned. Add spinach and mushrooms. When spinach is wilted and mushrooms curl slightly, remove the pan from the heat and set it aside. Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add garlic, spinach, mushrooms, and wontons to broth. Keep at a low boil/ simmer until wontons are cooked - look almost translucent. Remove from heat, add in fresh green onions and serve hot.
Nutritional Information: Wonton Soup - Recipe makes 8 servings, 3 - 4 wontons per serving, 1 cup of broth; Calories: 230.1, Total Fat: 8.5 g, Sat. Fat: 1 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.4 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3.1 g, Cholesterol: 2.8 mg, Sodium: 1,299.4 mg, Total Carbs.: 28 g, Fiber: 2.8 g, Sugar: 7.6 g, Protein: 7.3 g Some tips: If you end up with leftovers and want to save it, remove any wontons from the soup and store them separately from the broth in their own plastic baggie or container. The longer the wontons are in the broth, the soggier and less delicious they become. Store everything in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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