Sweet and spicy soup with red bean wontons

Wonton soup

This morning on our bike ride we drove down a street lined with flowering trees. The fragrance was intoxicating, and the white petals carpeted the street and fell all around us. It was a beautiful moment, and it reminded me of one of my favorite poems. It’s Ezra Pound’s translation of Li Po’s poem from 760 AD. It ends like this…

And if you ask how I regret that parting?
It is like the flowers falling at spring’s end,
confused, whirled in a tangle.
What is the use of talking! And there is no end of talking—
There is no end of things in the heart.

I call in the boy,
Have him sit on his knees to write and seal this,
And I send it a thousand miles, thinking.

I love that! And how does it tie in with this soup? Well, it was originally written in Chinese, and this is (not really at all) a Chinese soup! This is my imagining of a Chinese soup, and it combines some different elements and ingredients that I think of as Chinese. I’ve always loved playing with wonton wrappers, and I decided to fill them with a smoky, spicy mix of red beans, garlic and ginger. I read on the wikipedia about a method of folding them that involved putting the wrapper on your palm, putting a smidge of filling in, and then just folding up your fingers, letting the wonton form in any way it liked. This idea appealed to me! So that’s what I did. The broth is a sweet and spicy mix of ginger, tamari, scallions, cilantro and curly napa cabbage. The wontons were boiled right in the broth, and their soft texture and smoky flavor contrasted nicely with the brightness of the broth.

I made this soup, in part, to take place in a blogger’s event organized over at The Spanish Wok. It’s called The Soup Kitchen. It’s my first blogger’s event! Here’s the badge, that should explain all that, if I do it correctly…
The Soup Kitchen, The Soup Kitchen Badge

This is Parting at Yangguan by Zhao-ji Wu. I have to admit that I don’t know anything about it! But I think it’s very beautiful.

FOR THE WONTONS…

wonton wrappers (In the produce section of the grocery store!!)
1 can small red beans, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 inch cube of ginger, grated
3 scallions, mostly white parts – minced
1 T olive oil
1 t basil
1/2 t smoked paprika
cayenne to taste
salt and plenty of black pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, scallions, and ginger. When they start to brown, add the beans, paprika, basil & cayenne. Stir and cook until the beans are heated through. Add the cilantro, and taste for salt and pepper. You can mash them a bit as you do so.

To make the wontons…

Hold a wonton wrapper on the palm of your hand. Put a scant teaspoon of filling in the center. Fold up your fingers, closing up the wonton as you do so. You’ll need to use your other hand to help all the edges go in the right direction. Set them seam-side down on a plate to await their boiling fate.

For the broth…

Make a vegetable broth out of the scallion greens, the cilantro stems, some small cloves of garlic, a carrot, a handfull of french lentils, a few mushrooms, a few pieces of porcini or shitake mushroom, all warmed in olive oil. Then covered with water, brought to a boil, and simmered for a while. (Half an hour to a few hours, depending on how much time you have.)Add a dash of tamari.

2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 inch piece of ginger – grated
1 t brown sugar or raw sugar
1 t tomato purée
6 or 7 scallions, cut into 1/4 in rounds
1/4 cup tamari
1/3 cup white wine
1 t basil
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
vegetable broth (above) about 6 cups
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 head of curly napa cabbage (about 2 cups) roughly chopped
1 T balsamic vinegar (or to taste)

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the scallions, garlic and ginger. Cook till they start to brown. Add the sugar, mix in. Add the wine, tamari, tomato puree, basil and red pepper. Stir and cook until the liquid is reduced and thickened somewhat.

Add the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Bring it back to a gentle boil, and drop the wontons in. After a few minutes, they should rise to the surface. Now add the cabbage and cilantro. Cook a few minutes more, till the cabbage is soft but still a bit crunchy.

Taste for salt and pepper, add the balsamic, and serve!

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3 thoughts on “Sweet and spicy soup with red bean wontons

  1. Claire, thanks for submitting your entry. However, please add a link and blog name too where you mentions the event. The badge code should be obtained from the badge on my right side bar and will then link back to me, thanks.

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