Friday, January 31, 2014

Foodie Fridays: Chinese Dumpling Soup

The Chinese Lunar New Year starts today, and what better way to usher it in than with a bowl of steaming and delicious Chinese Dumpling Soup?  Dumplings (jiaozi) are traditionally served on this occasion because they are thought to resemble ancient gold or silver ingots (yuanbao) and thus eating them is believed to bring prosperity.  Long greens are another food eaten for the new year as a symbol of long life, so you may wish to minimize the chopping of the greens in the soup (there are so many healthy ingredients in this dish that it probably contributes to longevity anyway!).  2014 is the Year of the Green (Wood) Horse, so the color of this soup is a perfect fit.  Since the Chinese consider red to be an auspicious color for the new year, sprinkle some crushed red pepper flakes on your soup if you like it spicy, or perhaps some minced red bell pepper if you don't, and your luck for the year 2014 will be enhanced even more.  新年快乐 (Xin Nian Kuai Le), or Happy New Year!  

Chinese Dumpling Soup

8 C. chicken or vegetable stock or broth
8 medium shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
6 baby bok choy, outer leaves and base discarded, sliced lengthwise
8 oz. baby spinach
6 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and slivered
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 bag (16 oz.) frozen Asian dumplings, any flavor (I found mine at Trader Joe's)
Soy sauce, sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds to taste for garnish

Bring the broth or stock to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the next seven ingredients, return to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and wilted.  Add the dumplings and cook according to the package directions.  Ladle soup into bowls and stir the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds into each serving to taste.  Serves 6.

Notes: The flavored broth can be made ahead without the vegetables, which can be added before the dumplings when the soup is reheated to serve.  It is best to only add the amount of dumplings that will be eaten at once, rather than saving leftover soup with dumplings already added, as the dumplings will break down in the soup.  Also, any of your favorite greens can be used in this soup.  I used unsalted stock, so I added 2 T. soy sauce at the beginning of the recipe, but this is not necessary if the stock or broth already has salt added.

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