Monday 18 February 2008

Wanton Dumplings in Ginger Broth

After a week in Darwin, I was so happy to be back in my kitchen last night. I needed temple food. This is a Nigella term that I like. She talks about the approach to satisfy our vanity rather than health needs in How to Eat. But it is also about counteracting a bout of eating out in places that are mean-fisted with their vegetables. I think temple food would be my version of detox if I was more into self-discipline or self-denial.

I had been craving a bowl of miso soup full of vegetables and tofu but I also wanted to make a special soup for Lisa and Holler’s new blog event, No Croutons Required. They challenge bloggers to make a vegetarian soup that the most carnivorous diner would drool over. And I’ve been wanting to make more recipes from Denis Cotter’s Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me…

I have been meaning to make broth-based soup for a while now. I have admired other bloggers making broth soups like Lucy’s Zucchini in Broth with Cornmeal and Cheese Dumplings and Vegetarian Chicken Passover Soup, Culinary Bazaar’s Vegetarian Vietnamese Pho Soup and Andrea’s Vegetarian Stock that she uses in French Onion Soup. These soups all depend on a well-flavoured broth.

The soup I fancied is one Denis called ‘Sprouting Broccoli and Oyster Mushrooms in Ginger Broth with Pumpkin and Macadamia Dumplings’. What a mouthful! Fortunately I tweaked it to suit my tastes so I can simplify the name without guilt. I find oyster mushrooms too flaccid and I am suspicious of anything named after seafood, so I substituted swiss browns. I did away with the coriander and the macadamias and to add some carrot for some colour. I also used less oil and less soy sauce.

I couldn’t claim this soup would convert meat-and-potato carnivores but the adventurous will be thrilled. E was not so keen on it because he doesn't like watery soups. I loved it. The broth was wonderfully spicy thanks to my wee ginger man (check out the photos – E wanted to try and sell him on E-Bay because he was so adorable). The sweetness of the pumpkin in the dumplings was just right in the salty spicy broth. And I had plenty of vegetables. I loved the crisp green broccolini but E thought it underdone.

This was the soup I needed. It treated my body like a temple and fed my soul.

Update 1 March 2008:
There were 71 soups submitted to Lisa and Holler's No Croutons Required event. Amazingly, they had a vote on the best soup and I was the winner. Well the credit really goes to Denis Cotter because it is his recipe, but I still consider it an honour to be singled out among such wonderful soups. Please go to the impressive round-up to see all the other tempting soups sent to Lisa for the event.

Wanton Dumplings in Ginger Broth
(adapted from Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me…)
Serves 2 very hungry people or 4 as starter or light meal

- 1.75 litres water
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 85g fresh ginger, sliced
- 1 fresh chilli, sliced
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 75ml soy sauce

- 100g pumpkin flesh diced
- 1-2 tbsp chopped macadamias (or other nuts - I used walnuts)
- Finely grated zest of ½ lemon (I used less)
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp chopped basil (or 2 tsp chopped coriander)
- 8-12 wanton wrappers (approx)

Vegetables to serve:
- 350g (2 small bunches) broccolini or sprouting broccoli, roughly sliced
- 100g swiss brown mushrooms, roughly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1-2 spring onions, roughly sliced

Begin by preparing the broth: Place all ingredients except soy sauce into a large stockpot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add soy sauce and sit for another 20 minutes. Strain.

While the stock is simmering, make the dumplings: Steam or microwave pumpkin. Mash and add nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil. Stir to combine. To make the first dumpling, place wanton wrapper on clean flat surface. Place a teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture in the middle. Have a small dish of water beside you and use your fingers (or a brush) to moisten the edges. Bring two opposite corners up together and then bring the remaining two corners up so the four corners meet together like a pyramid – press the edges together to eliminate any air from the dumpling parcel. (Tip: it is easiest to handle if your fingers are dry). Repeat with remaining wrappers til all the mixture has been used up. (But these dumplings don't last well overnight so try to only make what you need.)

To prepare the vegetables, Denis suggests frying them in a little oil. I chose to steam the broccolini and carrots in the microwave til just done. I poured a ladle full of broth into a large saucepan and ‘stirfried’ the spring onions and mushrooms for a few minutes til starting to wilt. Then I added the broccolini and carrots.

While you are preparing the vegetables, gently heat broth and place the dumplings in the broth for about 2 minutes (they don’t take long at all, even when mine had dried out a little).

To serve the soup, place the vegetables in the bottom of a bowl. Spoon the dumplings on top of the vegetables. Ladle the broth into the bowl.

Note: I had a little broth leftover because I had to water down the strong tasting broth. The soup doesn't keep so well overnight but I will see if the leftover broth can be used up in another soup.

Update: since writing this post, I have found that dumplings can be made ahead of time, placed in the freezer on a tray to freeze. Once frozen, they can be put in a bag and kept in the freezer. They can be steamed or heated in broth directly from the freezer.

On the Stereo:
What we did on our holidays: an introduction to…: Fairport Convention


  1. This is just the type of thing I could use during my week of mini-detox! I'm usually in agreement with E about clear broth-based soups, but will give this one a try. And I loved the Ginger Man! (Did he survive the soup?)

  2. I already know that I will love this, looks wonderful.

  3. I think this would be the perfect soup to impress dinner guests (you actually made these wantons?!). Glad you're back and had a great rest/work trip!

  4. I want a bowl of this right now! Terrific submission. Thanks so much for participating in our event. I just love the idea of pumpkin dumplings! We should get together and cook some quick breads.

  5. The dumplings sound lovely. Ginger is perfect for this time of year.

    I have tagged you for a meme. Please visit my blog for details.


  6. Your ginger man is very, very cool. Did you feel at all guilty about cutting him up? ;-)

    This is beautiful - perfect for summer - and just look at your masterly wanton's. Temple Food is an apt description. I often feel the same way - I want no dairy, no sugar and no nonsense whenever I come home!

    Going to get cracking at the spine of that book. And we must catch up for that coffee at some point...

  7. Wanton a blog award? Well you have one! Boy, that was grim! I couldn't resist!
    Come over and collect your Excellent Blog Award!
    They are gorgeous wantons, by the way! I have never tried them before, so I bow down to your fabulousness!
    Thanks for entering into the challenge!
    ps the wee ginger man is a bit spooky!

  8. Your dumplings are beautiful! And the fact that they're filled with pumpkin is even better.

  9. thanks Ricki - it is a great detox soup - but not so good for ginger man, whom I am sorry to say was beheaded in the process.

    thanks Julie - hope you love it - my one reservation about it is that I thought denis cotter was a little heavy handed with the soy sauce so tread carefully with it.

    thanks Monika - I was impressed that I made wantons but I was also impressed at how easy they were - I always want wanton soup when eating out but it is never vegetarian so it was nice to have some wanton soup

    thanks Lisa - can't wait for the round-up - and yes I would be happy to share your lovely quickbreads :-)

    thanks Katie - will get onto the tag

    thanks Lucy - it wasn't easy to slice up my ginger man but once he was beheaded I was steeped so far in blood that to go back was as hard as to go o'er (or whatever it is that macbeth said!). Yes it is good summer soup - I imagine all the ginger would be good for colds too. Yes, it would be good to have that coffee - email me when you are settled back home!

    thanks Holler - so kind of you to give me an award - I would recommend these wanton dumplings - they aren't too difficult

    Thanks eat me delicious - pumpkin is one of my favourite vegetables which is one of the reasons I wanted to make these - so yet I agree with you about the pumpkin!

  10. That soup looks really delicious.

  11. Lovely soup Johanna! I usually call my broth soup "spa" soup for the same reasons.
    And you little dumplings look like little temples!
    Ginger Man...way too cool!

  12. Pumpkin and macadamia dumplings sounds great - I must check this book out as a few people have been posting lovely recipes from it

    Love the little ginger fella!

  13. Beautiful! I've been meaning to make this for a while now and am now sure I will do as soon as I get home.

  14. thanks Sally - it was delicious

    thanks WineDeb - you are right about the dumplings looking like temples - it is indeed temple soup!

    Thanks Sophie - yes check out this book - it has lots of inspirational recipes and lots of beautifully written reflections on food.

    Thanks Wendy - am sure Denis Cotter would love to be waiting to welcome you home with a nice bowl of this soup :-) (I fact, I would do it if only I lived closer!)

  15. Sounds like a great soup, well done on winning the challenge!

  16. What a great idea to make it vegetarian! To be honest I've never known how to make dumpling vegetarian without sacrificing the taste but that combination of vegetables sounds very tasty! Congratulations on your win! :)


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