Wonton Soup

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I have always loved wonton soup. Having spent a large portion of the 90s on military bases, which were quite culturally homogeneous, most of the “exotic” restaurants we had a chance to try were Chinese buffets. I loved them (in my pre-veg days), and was sad when I became vegetarian and couldn’t find meat-free wonton soup in restaurants.

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My parents had some in-depth cookbooks for people who wanted to learn Chinese cuisine, and as a teenager I experimented with making wontons filled with mashed tofu (instead of the recommended ground pork) and green onions. They were good but tended to leak tofu, and I made them occasionally in high school and university until I discovered a local buddhist vegan restaurant that makes divine wonton soup. Padmanadi is an awesome restaurant for anyone visiting Edmonton, veg or no. However, they are a 30+ minute drive away, and I wanted a recipe I could whip up at home.

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Trial and error resulted in a recipe that uses gluten flour in the filling for wontons that stay together while being cooked, but aren’t too gummy or rubbery. White pepper and five-spice powder give the broth a great flavour, and I heartily recommend adding your favourite vegetables, thinly-sliced, before serving. If you can’t find egg-free wonton wrappers, try using thin dumpling wrappers instead. I’ve used both, and dumpling wrappers are the ones used in the photos above.

Wonton Soup

An original recipe by Agent Minty

Makes 36 wontons

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 block (about 220 g) of medium or “traditional” tofu (not drained)
  • 1/4 can of chopped water chestnuts
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soya sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 coarsely chopped scallion
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp 5-spice powder
  • 1/2 cup gluten powder (vital wheat gluten, seitan powder, etc)
  • 1 package vegan wonton wrappers
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • your preferred chopped vegetables: I like baby bok chou, sliced carrots, whole baby corn, and even a bit of cauliflower.
  • ~ 1 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1/4 tsp each ground white pepper and 5-spice powder
  • 2 Tbsp soya sauce

Instructions:

  1. Puree tofu in a food processor for about 20 seconds until mostly smooth but still a bit gritty.
  2. Add water chestnuts, soya sauce, ginger paste, water, chopped scallion, white pepper, and five-spice powder, and pulse a few times until incorporated but not too smooth.
  3. Add in gluten flour and pulse repeatedly until the texture is like cookie dough.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and store at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to let the gluten develop.
  5. Pinch off 1-2 tsp-sized lumps of filling and place in the centre of the wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper and press to seal.
  6. Continue filling wontons, laying them on a single layer on a plate or tray to dry slightly.
  7. Prepare chopped vegetables and set aside.
  8. Prepare your broth – the miso paste, pepper, soya sauce, etc. are just recommended amounts for one large or two small servings (about 6 cups of broth). Add garlic, sriracha, ginger, or other seasonings to your taste.
  9. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Toss in the wontons you wish to eat (about 7 or 8 per person), and cook about 5 minutes, until they float.
  10. Meanwhile, transfer chopped vegetable to simmering broth and cook for the last two minutes.
  11. Transfer cooked wontons to the broth and add chopped scallions on top. Serve.
  12. Unused wontons can be frozen, uncooked, and tossed directly into boiling water to thaw when needed.

Messy Kitchen!

I’ve been a busy person lately. In the kitchen, too, making some recipes to share with you, but I haven’t had time to finish all of the photo processing and recipe typing. While I work on other things, here’s a recap of some of the mess I made in my kitchen today:

Noodly!

One of my 2015 resolutions is to try to incorporate more vegetables into every meal. Last week I tried making Serious Eats’ Instant Noodles with Miso-Sesame Broth. They were so good I’m making a jar for every workday this week! My version includes pressed tofu pan-fried in olive oil (as the first layer after the sauce base), fresh mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, snap peas, and udon noodles. I switched to using freeze-dried chives instead of chopped scallions after my office was left with a lingering smell of green onions.

I’m also trying to improve my early-morning preparedness. For three breakfasts this week, I made a big batch of high-protein oatmeal that I’ll keep in the fridge and reheat before eating. For two other meals, I’ll make VegMcMuffins – I’ve already prepped the tofu and “meat”, all I’ll need to do is toast an English muffin and add slices of pepper and tomato.

Dirty Kitchen (2 of 2)

I made a batch of cookies but didn’t take pictures. They were a cashew variation of Nephew Cookies, to give to a neighbour. It was like he was psychic – as I was convincing myself to bundle up and drop them off, he same over with some Vegan chili he had made for us. Awesome!

Finally, I made a big pot of minestrone, like we do every month. This will last in leftovers for a few dinners this week, or be frozen as extra lunches for days when we don’t have time to make anything fresh but want something healthy and delicious.

Dirty Kitchen (1 of 2)

A few hours of work made me food for at least twelve meals plus more to share, with lots of healthy ingredients and flavour. Yum!

Sick day soup

Ah, the late-winter cold. Charming cousin to the Autumn and Christmas colds I’ve had this year. Despite me taking better care of myself than ever, a little bit of stress and enough germs in the workplace had me down for the weekend, plus yesterday. I felt indifferent to most food, but I wanted to make something healthy and filling, that wouldn’t upset my tummy.

Enter this soup. It’s packed with protein and carotenes, and makes enough to last for days. Think of it as the charming cousin of split pea soup and sweet potato soup. Also, it’s darn cheap to make, and tastes delicious with garlic toasts and plenty of cracked black pepper. Note that you can use a different mix of split lentils and beans, but for the best texture you should choose mostly ones that have their skins removed.

Lentil-yam-soup

 

 

 

Sweet potato, lentil, and sun-dried tomato soup – An Agent Minty original recipe

Makes eight 1-cup servings.

Ingredients:

  • One medium sweet potato, cubed
  • Olive oil
  • Herbs: parsley, sage, savoury
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3/4 cup moong dal
  • 2/3 c green lentils
  • 2 veggie bouillon cubes
  • 1 small can of V-8
  • 1.5 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

Instructions:

  1. Toss sweet potato cubes in enough oil to generously coat.
  2. Toss with salt and herbs of choice.
  3. Bake in a casserole dish at 400F for approximately 40 minutes, until very soft. 
  4. Meanwhile, wash your lentils until the water runs clear.
  5. Add the lentils to 8-10 cups of water, pus a generous amount of olive oil in a large pot and heat on medium-high.
  6. Once the lentils have come to a boil, turn heat to a gentle simmer and add bouillon cubes and V-8. Partly cover with a lid.
  7. Add more water as needed to prevent the lentils from sticking, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
  8. Simmer lentils for 30-40 minutes until they are very soft and start to break apart.
  9. Add in cooked sweet potato, sun-dried tomatoes, and nutritional yeast. 
  10. Simmer for another 10 minutes to allow flavours to combine.
  11. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until it is smooth.
  12. Season with salt as needed.

Chai and Minestrone

Here are two things we made last week and have been enjoying for several days:

We have been making this chai concentrate occasionally for the past few months. While neither cheap nor strictly vegan due to the honey included, it is a fun treat to have at home, and significantly cheaper than a chai latte from any cafe.

The recipe we use is modified from Vegetarian Slow Cooker:

  • 4   1  1/2 inch slices fresh peeled ginger, use vegetable peeler for the slices.
  • 6   3 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 8   whole cloves
  • 15-20 green cardamom pods
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons high-quality vanilla
  • 2 dashes of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup honey (use 1/3 cup white sugar and 2 Tbsp maple syrup if vegan)
  • 3   cups water
  • 6   black tea bags
  1. Everything except the tea bags goes into the crock pot.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
  2. After a long simmer, if heat is not on high turn to high.  Add tea bags.  Let steep for 5 minutes MAX (longer steep=bitter tea).
  3. Remove tea bags and press gently with a spoon to get all water out.
  4. Strain into a jar or bottle (I use a clean wine bottle), and keep in the fridge for a week.
  5. Use about 1/4 cup of concentrate per mug of chai latte. Add hot or steamed almond or soy milk, stir gently, and top with a shake of nutmeg!

Here is the recipe for our Kale Minestrone. This has been a favourite in our household since Mrs. Minty’s mother made it for us about four years ago. It is delicious as leftovers, too. It also works well in a crock pot. If cooking in a crock pot, wait to add the pasta until 15 minutes before serving.

Bowl of Minestrone

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 15 oz can of red kidney beans
  • 15 oz can of  small white navy beans
  • 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes (fresh if in season)
  • 1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup small shaped pasta
  1. Heat oil on medium in a large pot. Add onions, celery, garlic, and carrot. Cover and allow to cook, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once onions turn clear, add all other ingredients except pasta and kale.
  3. Bring to a boil then turn heat down to simmer gently.
  4. Add kale and pasta 15 minutes before serving.  Additional water may be required.