(MCT) — Every so often I come across a convenience product that ranks high on my list for being tasty and useful.
Several years ago, I tried the Trader Joe’s Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons used in today’s recipe.
You’ll find them in the frozen aisle at area Trader Joe’s stores. A 12-ounce bag is about $3.
These are ideal to serve as a quick appetizer with a dipping sauce or if you need a dish to pass at the last minute. They’re precooked, so you just need to heat them. The pan-frying method on the package works best, but you also can microwave them.
One of the best uses of these mini wontons, besides as an appetizer, is making a quick wonton-style soup. All you do is add them frozen to boiling broth. It makes an instant, filling and flavorful soup in minutes.
Wonton soup usually consists of filled wonton skins cooked in a clear broth and flavored with other ingredients. The filling can be chicken, pork or vegetables.
Of course, you need not stop at adding only the wontons.
I had leftover shiitake mushrooms, some Napa cabbage and a few green onions on hand. All made for easy additions to bump up the soup for a main dish serving.
If you’ve never tried Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage, this soup is a good introduction.
The leaves are crinkly with thick veins, and the color goes from yellowish to celery-green toward the tip. The flavor is mild.
A few splashes of soy sauce give this soup some seasoning, and the hot chili oil adds a little kick.
When using soy sauce, I use the one labeled less-sodium.
How much less varies with the product, so check the label. One brand may say it’s 37% less, but others may say 50% or 60% less.
The original version of a leading store brand of soy sauce has 920 milligrams per tablespoon, and the less-sodium version has 575 milligrams per tablespoon. So, that’s a significant savings.
If you want to make a dipping sauce for serving wontons as an appetizer, mix together soy sauce, mild Asian-style sweet chili sauce, rice vinegar and sliced green onions.
If you don’t have the sweet chili sauce, add sugar or brown sugar to taste.
Quick and easy chicken wonton soup
Serves: 4 (generously) / Preparation time: 10 minutes / Total time: 20 minutes
• 2 packages (4 ounces each) shiitake mushrooms
• 2 teaspoons canola oil
• 6 ˝ cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
• About ˝ bag (more if desired) chicken cilantro mini wontons (such as Trader Joe’s)
• 2 tablespoons less-sodium soy sauce
• ˝ teaspoon toasted sesame oil or hot chili oil, optional
• 2 cups coarsely chopped Napa cabbage
• 3 green onions, washed, thinly sliced
Remove and discard the stems of the shiitakes. Wipe the shiitakes clean with a damp paper towel. Cut the shiitake caps into thin slices.
In a medium saucepot, heat the canola oil. Add the shiitakes and sauté until soft. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the wontons and cook about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat and stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil, if using; Napa cabbage and green onions. Simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls.
From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis based on 1 serving, about 1 ˝ cups.
226 calories (28 percent from fat), 7 grams fat (1 gram sat. fat), 28 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 634 mg sodium, 8 mg cholesterol, 4 grams fiber.
©2012 the Detroit Free Press
Distributed by MCT Information Services