Soup Dumplings and Irresponsible Wonton Soup (Make Ahead Monday)

My husband has been doing a lot (A LOT) of business travel lately. As in he’s been gone more than he’s been home, unfortunately.  Before he headed out for a particularly long stretch a couple weeks ago, I ran to the store and bought giant multi-packs of paper towels, toilet paper and saltine crackers. As he helped me unload the back of the car, he threw me a weird look. I said, “If I don’t get all this, it’s a certainty that as soon as you leave everyone is going to start throwing up and I’ll have to go to the store with a fever and five kids in tow looking like death warmed over trying desperately to find toilet paper and paper towels and saltine crackers because no one can keep anything else down. And when I get to the store I’ll find that there’s been a run on crackers for some reason and they only have the one-ply toilet tissue. You wouldn’t want that to happen would you?”

I get a little panicky when I know I’m going to be flying solo for a long period of time. Call it neuroticism informed by experience, but I’m sure many of you have been down this same path.

The car was pulling out of the driveway when I heard, “Mom… I feel like I’m gonna…” and  you know what came next. It was going to be one of THOSE WEEKS. It was almost inevitable. But hey, I had saltines…

Saltines, however, can only sustain a family so long. So what are you to do when all available grown-ups are either feeling punky or are out of town, the kids are sick and it’s dinner time? That’s when you have a couple options: a.) order out. b.) eat chips c.) take something out of the freezer. If you’re like me, none of that sounds particularly appealing. But I’m being tricky. I have an ulterior motive.

With the casserole and cream-of-whatever-soup centric once a month cooking, food from freezer has taken a bum rap lately. I’ve already talked about my dissatisfaction with OAM cooking, so I won’t belabour the point except to say this; I get really tired of eating things that taste alike day after day. And again? I’m being tricksy and beating around the bush.

This is where I break into my own story to make a quick announcement. I’m adding a new feature here on Foodie with Family (fanfare! Bum-ba-da-DA!) Every Monday we’re going to revamp freezer food’s reputation together. Make Ahead Monday is going to feature one recipe were we do the bulk of the work on a recipe and freeze it properly so we can have fresh, varied, delicious food cooked from frozen on THOSE NIGHTS.

“But wait!” you say, “Isn’t that pretty much the same thing as OAM cooking?” Well, no, and let me explain why. One of the main points of OAM cooking is taking one or two days to cook all of the meals you’ll need for the month. Make Ahead Mondays is -at its essence- making one item every week to stash in your freezer to help you get meals on the table when you’re too busy to think.

And because the quality of food that’s been frozen is largely reliant on the way you freeze it and cook it after freezing it, Make Ahead Mondays will include instructions on the best way to stash and reheat your goodies. Most Make Ahead Mondays will feature a new recipe, but every so often, we’ll go back into the Foodie With Family archives to highlight an older recipe that holds up well to this treatment.

For our inaugural Make Ahead Monday, I’m excited to share one of my favourite soups of all time with you: Wonton Soup. This fast soup is made using fragrant ginger and scallion pork stuffed wontons that you make and freeze ahead of time. With the wontons in the freezer, this soup pulls together with only six essential additional ingredients that you usually have on hand (or nine if you want super tricked out wonton soup.)

This isn’t just my favourite soup here. It holds the distinction of being the one and only soup that absolutely everyone in the household loves madly. We’re all crazy about it. It is the only soup that I don’t have to threaten to withhold dessert in order to get the two youngest to eat. It is just about perfect in every way. Clear, fragrant, and ever-so-slightly garlicky broth with soft, pillowy ginger scallion pork dumplings and matchsticked carrots poured over thinly sliced scallions is a recipe for pleasing everyone in our home. Okay, so I omit the carrot sticks and thinly sliced scallions in the bowls of the two little ankle-biters, but that’s no big shakes. They have no idea how much scallion they’re ingesting in the dumplings. BWAHAHAHAHA!

Speaking of children and wonton soup, the name of our soup requires a little explanation. As I was preparing this very soup the other night, my eldest son entered the room and asked what I was making for dinner. “Wonton soup!” I replied. He got a wry look on his face and said, “Wouldn’t you say that’s irresponsible?” and waited for my reaction. It took me a full minute to get the joke, but when I did, I felt very secure in the knowledge that our vocabulary work has paid dividends. We have changed the name of the soup to Irresponsible Soup.

You can make as many wontons ahead of time as you’d like, just keep in mind that they’re good for up to six months in the freezer when properly frozen and wrapped, so plan accordingly. And like the dumpling recipe itself, the soup recipe lends itself to scaling up beautifully. Just apply the same cooking method and you can make dumpling soup for a crowd as easily as soup for one. If you don’t think this soup beats every container of take-out wonton soup you’ve ever had, I’ll eat my, well, I’ll eat the soup for you. How about that?

I’d love your opinion. Do you think Make Ahead Mondays will be helpful to you or am I going to have to do some real convincing to get you to agree that there’s nothing irresponsible about it? I can’t wait to hear what you all think!

Frozen Soup Dumplings and Irresponsible Wonton Soup (Make Ahead Monday)
 
Clear, fragrant, and ever-so-slightly garlicky broth with soft, pillowy ginger scallion pork dumplings and matchsticked carrots poured over thinly sliced scallions is a recipe for pleasing everyone in our home and is certain to please you and yours, too. Make a big batch of the soup dumplings (double, triple, shoot for the moon!) to keep on hand in the freezer for busy nights and last minute cravings.
Ingredients
Frozen Soup Dumpling Ingredients:
  • 1 package wonton wrappers (about 48 3-inch square wrappers)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • a 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or very finely minced
  • 6 scallions, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry or rice wine
  • 1 egg, beaten
Additional Ingredients to Make One Serving of Soup:
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 7 frozen soup dumplings
  • ½ of a small carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled but whole
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced, green and white parts separated.
Optional For Serving With Soup:
  • fish sauce or soy sauce
  • chili garlic sauce or Sriracha
  • fried chow mein or wonton noodles
Instructions
To Make and Freeze Dumplings:
  1. Line a large platter or baking sheet with parchment paper or plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. Add the pork, fish sauce, ginger, scallions, corn starch and sherry or rice wine to a mixing bowl and stir together vigorously until it is evenly combined.
  3. Lay out four wonton wrappers at a time on a cutting board or clean work surface and brush the entire top surface with beaten egg. (This keeps the dumplings from popping open while simmering in the soup.) Scoop a scant teaspoon of the meat mixture into the center of the wonton wrapper. Gather up the edges around the filling, pinch together and give a gentle twist to seal. They will resemble a beggar's purse or little head of garlic or onion. Place each dumpling on the prepared platter with enough room between them so they do not touch. Repeat with remaining meat and wonton wrappers.
  4. When you have completed the dumplings, cover with plastic wrap and lay the platter or pan in the freezer. When they are fully frozen, transfer the dumplings to a resealable plastic bag, gently squeeze the air from the bag and keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To Prepare the Irresponsible Wonton Soup:
  1. Drizzle the bottom of a heavy-bottomed saucepan with sesame oil and place the frozen dumplings flat side down on top of the oil. Place the garlic clove alongside the dumplings and scatter the matchsticked carrots and the whites of the scallion over the top of the dumplings.
  2. Add one cup of stock and turn the heat to medium high. The stock will only come partway up the dumplings.
  3. Bring the stock to a full boil. then add another cup of the stock. When that reaches a full boil, add the final cup of stock and bring once again to a boil. Allow it to boil fully for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the thinly sliced green parts of the scallions to a serving bowl. Use a deep spoon to transfer the dumplings and carrots to the bowl and then pour the hot broth over top.
  5. If desired, you can serve with a splash of fish sauce or soy sauce, a dollop of chili garlic sauce or Sriracha and a handful of fried chow mein or wonton noodles.

Comments

  1. Debra says

    This looks wonderful, and I like the idea of ‘Make Ahead Monday’. It’s just me so OAM isn’t really up my alley at all, this looks like it would be.

  2. Ashley says

    Brilliant! I just found your site today, but I’ll definitely be checking back. I love keeping stuff stashed in the freezer for those days that just explode, but most of the OAM recipes = bleck! Plus, the hubby refuses anything in “casserole” form except lasagne. :) I regularly make huge batches of wontons to keep in the freezer (we have sort of an addiction to them here), so I’m pretty excited to see what else you’ve got in mind! Will be trying your soup out soon!

  3. Gerilynne says

    I love the idea of Make Ahead Mondays. Then again, I’m a freezer kind of gal. I received a Food Saver for Christmas and I love, love, love it. I’m not into the “cook once eat all month” If anything, I’ll go so far as to peel extra carrots if I’m using for them something else so that there’s a stash in the fridge ready for a quick snack.

    • says

      Jolene- Do you remember if you brushed the inside of the wonton with beaten egg? That seems to be the real key to keeping them closed. As long as they hold together on the pan (after you’ve brushed, filled, and cinched them) they should hold together in the soup pot for you!

  4. Jenna says

    You’d be my hero if you continue with Make Ahead Mondays!! I’m not into making and freezing casseroles. Most of the ones I make don’t really take all that long anyway and I’d rather have the freezer space for something else :) This soup sounds wonderful!

  5. says

    Oh, I love it thanks! I have been trying to stock my freezer with food for “those” days. But so far I have about 5 different meals in there sauce everything else comes out “wrong” or isn’t something we would normally eat. Thanks for sharing.

  6. says

    Even though I would love to be a make ahead kind of gal – I’m not. I simply just don’t look that far ahead. as well my kids are now 15 and 12 so I am not as pressed for time as I used to be. However, I do love the look of the wontons and would make those ahead of time. I would also steam and fry them as finger food. I love hearing cooking stories from other Mommies!

  7. Vivian says

    Oh yes! Great idea. I look forward to your MAMs. A Food Saver is one of the best things that I use in my kitchen. Stuff really does last so much longer.

  8. Karen D. says

    I love the idea of some GOOD frozen asset foods. I have tried many make ahead meals, making 7 weeks of dinners before my last baby was born. It was wonderful to have meals ready in minutes. I would love to get back into the habit now that my kids are 7, 5 and 4. We like really tasty food though, not the same old bland OAMC recipes. I will be cheerfully anticipating each Make Ahead Monday.

  9. Maegan says

    I’ve tried dumplings from a Chinese restaurant and I really love the taste and the way they cooked it. There’s also a dumpling that I’ve tasted, it was steamed and they put a little sauce on top. It’s really delicious!

  10. Christine says

    I love the word “Irresponsible”, is it because the food is unhealthy. By the way thank you for sharing the recipe. A must try dish.

    • says

      Actually, I’d say this was pretty healthy, Christine! My whole family is into puns and plays-on-words and my son is keeping up the tradition. He was saying irresponsible because it’s a synonym for wanton which sounds like wonton which makes us very geeky indeed. :-)

  11. Suze says

    I am going to try this. Our family is difficult as we combine fussiness and complex food allergies. As a result no one wants to cook etc. But this looks good. I like the idea of having of wontons that I can eat in the freezer.

    • says

      Oh gosh… That is a tough combo of palates to cook for! My sister has the same thing going on… It can be so daunting to get something on the table when you think part of the audience is predisposed to disliking it. I feel ya. Hopefully we can get some great stuff in your freezer that will *gasp* please them all!

  12. Michelle says

    Make ahead Mondays sounds wonderful! My kids are starting t-ball and I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get dinner made and kids fed before practice, and I had almost resigned myself to the fact that we would be eating PB&J four times a week- not that I don’t love Pb&J but it would get old pretty quick! I can’t wait for the next installment of Make ahead Mondays! I also like that you give adjustments for picky small children :)

    • says

      Anything served four times a week would get old fast!!! I see this as a group project. I need this stuff in the freezer as much as everyone else! I’m so excited to be stocking up with all of you!

  13. says

    Love the idea of Make Ahead Monday. It’s one of my longer workdays, and having something in the fridge or freezer that DH can get started is a truly wonderful thing. Will make these dumplings on Sunday to freeze. They look luscious!

  14. Christyn says

    Finally! Someone who realizes that freezer does NOT equal cream of XXX soup! I’m looking forward to Make Ahead Mondays, and with a surgery looming will be prepping a lot for my “down time.”
    I’ll be adding this (and likely many more of your recipes) to that list!

  15. Abbie says

    I’ve typically been a failure at any type of semi-authentic Asian cuisine, but bravely bought fresh ginger, chili and garlic sauce, and with-fingers-crossed-for-luck substituted oyster sauce for fish sauce (I live in rural SW MO, so some ingredients are hard to come by). I was shocked how good this soup was. Not that I doubted your amazing recipe, nor did I mistrust your two youngest’s tastes, but I–and the much pickier husband of mine–were really really really pleased with this wanton/wonton soup. Yum. I’m smiling just thinking of the extra frozen dumplings in the freezer. THANK YOU!

    • says

      Sister, I know what you mean about living in rural places and trying to source ingredients! My best friend in those situations is Amazon.com! In fact, quite a few of the ingredients I call for are listed in my Amazon store tab… I’m so glad that the soup turned out being as well loved for you as it was for us!

  16. Julie says

    Hooray for Make-Ahead-Mondays! I’m in a dinner swap where all we swap is freezer friendly food and I’m always looking for new ideas to prepare for my group. Thank you for committing to freezer friendly recipes once a week!

  17. Divina says

    This soup looks delicious! i have never tried to cook this kind of soup. But i would love to give this a try. Thanks for sharing your make ahead mondays idea and your recipe.

  18. says

    Yes to Make Ahead Mondays! I try to make at least one thing each week that I can freeze a portion of for those nights when I want/need to abandon the meal plan, but I just can’t think what else to cook. Besides the obvious “yuck factor,” OAM cooking doesn’t work for us. My family does not do casseroles for the simple fact that far too many of the represented food groups are touching each other.

    • says

      Oh yes, the dreaded touching food! :-) One of the gruesome twosome is also opposed to the touching food. It’s funny though, he is a-okay with them touching as long as he sees them being put on the place together. Kids. Whaddya gonna do?

  19. Sarah says

    These look fabulous, but I do have one question. In my family several of us are horribly dangerously allergic to all things seafood. How necessary is the fish sauce for the recipe?

    • says

      Hey Sarah- By all means, sub in soy sauce or tamari in equal amounts for the fish sauce. If it’s an option, fish sauce gives the real authentic flavour, but I’d hate for you to miss it just because of that. It’ll still be great, just different!

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