Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Heaven In a Bowl... Wonton Noodle Soup

I can't even begin telling you how much I love wonton noodle soup. It has all the elements of heaven in a bowl- the intoxicating aroma and flavour from the love poured into making the finest soup, the gorgeous pillowy morsels of savoury shrimp, pork and chives and the chewy strands and tangles of long noodles. The most fondest memories as a child was sitting around the kitchen table with my family preparing them together. Mom was always the one cooking that mouth-watering homemade broth and dad in charge of compiling the filling. My brother, sister and I would sit there eagerly with wonton skin in hand and a spoonful of filling in the other, and go as fast as our little fingers could wrap them. Sigh... those were the days...  However, in this household so far we've had more than our share of wontons go through the kitchen, and it has become a favourite mainstay with my kids too. One that hopefully when they are old enough to help me out, that they too will have fond nostalgic thoughts when they're all grown up and think back about our time together bonding over wontons... (wipe tears..).

Now after all that rambling I am sorry to tell you that I am not sharing how I make delicious wontons with you today (arghhh, I know...pinky swear I will in a near post), but rather how to make the delicious broth to go with it. See, I still haven't got off the March-break lazy train to get my butt to the store. I'm still riding it out with what I have, which I see are frozen meaty pork neck bones, extra frozen wontons saved from a previous wrapping session (thank you God) and noodles in my pantry. So it's still all good from here....

So here are the dibs on making that broth:

1) Bring a pot of water to a boil; add a teaspoon of salt and two slices of ginger. Add the meat bones. I usually use pork neck bones and chicken bones, but I didn't have any chicken bones and will add two chicken thighs later in the cooking. Bring the water back to a boil for two to three minutes, then drain it over a strainer.

2) Rinse the bones under cold running water and wash between the crevices to rid gelatinous fat and any grit. Discard the ginger slices.

3) Rinse the pot, add water and bring it back to a boil with the blanched bones. I like to add a halved carrot, half an onion and 1 tsp. kosher salt. This is not a traditional way to make wonton soup broth as it uses dried fish and scallops but I like this flavour as it tastes more mellow for my children. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low to cook for two hours. The chicken thighs are added an hour later.

4) Skim the layer of fat and scum that builds up on the surface periodically to achieve a clean broth. 

5) To season the soup without adding more salt, I usually use salted turnip slices. They can be found in the preserved vegetable aisle in Asian supermarkets. One piece sliced into thin strips adds a nice savoury salty flavour and texture to the broth when added at the last 15 minutes of cooking. Six sliced shiitake mushrooms goes in there too at the same time.

6) Purists would strain everything out in a cheese-cloth covered sieve for a fine debris-free broth, however I like to keep my ingredients in, bones and all, and ladle what I need, except the onion which I remove.  Often, I top a meaty bone along with my noodle soup and enjoy it dipped with soy sauce and sesame oil. If there are leftovers, the bones would continue to flavour the soup making it even more tastier the next day. Flavour on flavour!


Ahhh, my tray of trusted frozen homemade wontons neatly laying there and beckoning to me....  

These ones are filled with mostly shrimp- coarsely chopped and minced, lean ground pork, bamboo shoots and black mushroom fungus, although I usually add Chinese chives. I promise to post a step-by-step to wonton-making soon!


 Alas, my good ol' pal wonton noodle soup, my comfort, my love, my past and my future... my heaven in a bowl...

To my dear kids, should there ever be a time you're in doubt and need some comfort, close your eyes and transport yourself back to the kitchen table where you had sip, slurped and savoured mom's wonton soup and let all your worries melt away... 


  1. Hey this is a real touching post. I too hope to one day have a family culinary legacy I can establish with my daughter. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Thank you David. Nothing beats reminiscing childhood memories around food. I'd love to hear my readers stories on their fondest memories too.

  3. I remember my grandma used to make this childhood food for me and my cousins, indeed brought back a lot of childhood memories, I AM Making this tomorrow for my girls. Thank you for sharing the recipe! :)