Soothing Asian Chicken Dumpling Soup

I never thought I’d come around to complaining about how cold it’s been recently…in Texas out of all places. Following the sweltering summer months, or rather most months of the year (because there’s really only 2 seasons here in South Texas– hot perdition and ice), the cooler temperatures should be a welcomed change. I’m just glad those half-dollar-sized mosquitoes are mostly dead. Even though the temperature is not as frigid here compared to many of the northern states (God bless y’all!), it’s still lovely to return to a warm cozy home filled with the noisy chatter of kids and the aroma of something delicious cooking on the stove.

One of the kids’ favorite dishes to eat when the temperature drops is homemade chicken wonton dumpling soup. This dish is light but filling at the same time. I feel good serving it because I know exactly what ingredients I put into my dumplings. Store-bought frozen dumplings tend to contain unpronounceable ingredients, MSG, and preservatives. And restaurant dumplings tend to be on the scanty side. Many times, you bite into a so-called dumpling and wonder where the dumpling is…more like eating boiled flour squares with no meat. Making dumplings at home is also important to my husband Kim, who has a phobia of food that is cooked wrapped in something– for example, eggrolls, burritos, and dumplings. His fear stemmed from his highschool years of working in a Chinese restaurant, where the penny-pinching owners would take the old left-over food from the buffet bar at the end of the night and combine it to make the filling of the next day’s eggrolls. I can’t really blame him.

For this soup, rest assured that it’s all fresh ingredients. No leftovers or fillers here. You can use any type of ground meat, but I will be using half dark meat chicken (thigh meat) and half breast meat. The reason for this is because ground breast meat by itself is too dry and coarse due to the lack of fat, but combining dark meat chicken to the breast meat makes a juicier and sweeter filling. You can also opt to use just dark meat chicken, turkey, pork, or beef. The dumpling wrappers can be easily made using 3 parts wheat flour to 1 part water, mixed to form a soft dough, rolled out thinly, and cut into circles. Because we working moms and dads don’t always have time to make scratch-made wrappers, I will be using store-bought wrappers in this recipe. They can be purchased fresh or frozen quite inexpensively at an Asian grocery store. If using frozen wrappers, be sure to thaw out in the fridge before wrapping time.

Asian Chicken Dumpling Soup

Ingredients:

For the Dumplings:

  • 1 pound chicken thigh/leg meat + 1 pound chicken breast– ground (2 pounds of any ground meat of your choice is fine, too.)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot/ cabbage combo (or buy fresh coleslaw mix) –You can also substitute any vegetable, like napa, spinach, bok choy, etc.
  • 1/2 cup black tree ear mushroom– rehydrate in warm water, drain thoroughly, and roughly chop.
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 6 cloves minced garlic (again, I love garlic and hate vampires. Feel free to use more or less to suit your taste.)
  • 1 small white onion, finely diced.
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons cooking sherry or Shaoxing wine (optional)
  • homemade or store-bought round dumpling wrappers, about 50
  • 1 egg, cracked and placed in a small bowl, for sealing the dumpling wrappers

For the Soup:

  • 4 quarts (1 gallon) chicken broth (You can make your own or use store-bought, just make sure to use the low-sodium kind).
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (season to suit your taste. I’m being conservative here, so that you can add more if it is too bland.)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder or concentrate
  • 2 cups roughly cut chunks of daikon radish
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms, any variety–I’m using king oyster mushrooms here.
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2″ knob fresh ginger, peeled and split in half lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • thinly sliced green onions and finely chopped cilantro for garnish

Useful Equipment:

** Disclaimer: Please note that the highlighted links in this post are affiliate links, in which I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase through those links. I have purchased all the products I recommend with my own funds and have tested and used each product before I post. Please know that I only recommend products that I like and trust and genuinely believe would help my audience. Thank you for your support of my blog in this way!

Directions:

1. Prepare the dumpling filling by adding ground meat to a large mixing bowl. You can opt to buy the meat already ground from the store or butcher, or you can grind your meat using a meat grinder or a food processor. (I like the taste of freshly ground meat, and the Cuisinart food processor has done a great job for this task.) You can also chop and shred all the vegetables for this recipe using a food processor, as well. Add in all the ingredients for the dumpling filling (except the wrappers and egg) and use very clean hands or a large spoon to thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. Let the meat mixture sit and marinate in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

2. To make the dumplings, wash and dry your hands very well. Take a wrapper in one hand, place a teaspoonful of meat filling into the center of the wrapper, spread a thin layer egg white around the outer edges of the wrapper, press the wrapper together to enclose the filling (should look like a half circle), and crimp and pleat the wrapper to seal the dumpling. **Please view the following short video for a demonstration of this step. I’m not the best dumpling crimper, and if my mother-in-law were still alive, she’d probably give me a mild scolding, but you get the idea. Just make sure the dumpling is sealed securely, so that when it comes time to boil, it won’t fall apart! Repeat this for all the wrappers.

**At this point, if you’ve made too many dumplings to consume for the day, you can freeze these raw dumplings for future use. To do so, take the extra raw dumplings, spread them on a cookie tray, freeze them until hard, remove them from the tray, and store them in a freezer-safe container or bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you want to eat dumplings next time, just take the frozen dumplings (do not thaw) and boil or pan fry. This is such a time-saver!

Video Tutorial: How to form dumplings
(Please excuse the action-packed background noise. My kids were watching Men in Black 3.)
Sealed and crimped dumplings. Each dumpling has about 6-7 pleats.

3. To cook the dumplings, bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Add in 5 to 7 dumplings at a time. Be careful not to crowd the pot, as this will cause the dumplings to stick together and tear apart. Reduce heat to medium-high, cook the dumplings about 7 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to remove dumplings from the water. Set aside on a clean plate. Repeat cooking until all the dumplings are done.

4. Prepare the soup by bringing the chicken broth to a boil. Add in the half onion, daikon radish chunks, and ginger. The onion and ginger will serve as aromatics for your soup, while the daikon radish will add sweetness and depth of flavor. Reduce heat and let soup simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Add in the seasonings: sugar, salt, chicken bouillon.

6. Add in sliced mushrooms.

7. Simmer soup for 15 minutes, so that all ingredients will release their flavors into the soup.

8. Before serving the soup, bring pot to a boil once more for 2 minutes. Then decrease heat to a simmer and add in sesame oil and black pepper. You can discard the ginger, daikon radish, and white onion chunks at this time, or just leave them in the broth for richer flavor.

9. Place as many cooked dumplings you desire into a soup bowl. I like to serve 5 to 6 dumplings per bowl. Ladle hot soup into the bowl to cover the dumplings.

10. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper, chopped green onions, and cilantro for garnish if desired.

This soup is excellent for warming up cold winter days, as well as soothing a sick loved one. Before I conclude, I would like to mention that if you want to forego the soup, you can also prepare the dumplings as a stand-alone dish. Just simply make the dumplings, boil or pan-fry them, and serve them with a dipping sauce (such as mixing Sichuan chili oil with soy sauce and black vinegar). My older daughter enjoys eating them in this fashion. I hope you enjoyed reading my entry today and will try making Asian dumplings instead of buying them for a refreshing change. Wishing everyone a great week filled with lots of health, happiness, and delicious food!

Dumplings can be served simply with sauce or in a soup.

Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup– Bikini-Friendly!

At only 183 calories a bowl, this soup is definitely bikini-friendly!

One of my favorite Vietnamese dishes is Crab and Asparagus Soup because I love most anything with crabmeat.  The marriage of delicate crabmeat and silky asparagus truly is a match made in heaven.   If you’ve ever attended a Vietnamese wedding or a birthday party, then you’ve probably encountered and tasted this elegant crab and asparagus soup.  In Vietnam this soup, called “Súp cua măng tây,” is usually reserved for special occasions.  The asparagus was introduced to the Vietnamese when the French colonized Vietnam for over a century (from 1800’s to 1954).  The other ingredients in this dish are truly Vietnamese.  

    One of the blessings in my life is living on a canal near the bay during the weekends.  There is a wealth of seafood to be had, including fresh blue crabs.  Usually when I make this soup, I like to catch, cook, and peel my own crabs.  However, this time I’m using fresh store-bought Dungeness crabs because they were on sale at the market, and they are easier and faster to pick clean due to their large size and softer shells. Even though this soup looks and tastes fancy, it is very easy to make at home.  You can substitute canned crabmeat, asparagus, and quail eggs for the fresh versions if ingredients are not readily available or saving time is a factor, but like most things in life, fresh ingredients make the best tasting soup. 

     Add-ons, such as white fungus (I know, it sounds not so appetizing, right? It’s actually just a white type of mushroom) and quail eggs give the soup extra richness, texture, and nutritional value.  The white fungus, also called snow mushroom, resembles a sponge when dried.  You can buy this mushroom in the Asian grocery store in the dried foods section.  It is valued in Asia for making the skin youthful and bouncy due to its high hyaluronic acid and collagen content.  Snow mushrooms (which I’ll call them from here on out because white fungus just doesn’t sound that appealing) don’t really have a taste, but I like to chop them and add them to this soup because they have a slight crunchy texture…and, if they’re going to make me look younger in the process, then I’m all for it!  Let food be thy medicine, right?  

White Fungus/ Snow Mushroom

  As for the quail eggs, which are these cute little poppers of protein, they taste just like chicken eggs and add extra richness to this soup.  You can also find these eggs at the Asian market, and some of the gourmet grocery stores even carry them now.  They are about 3 to 4 times smaller than a chicken egg and come packaged in small cartons of 18 eggs.  

Quail eggs are so cute! 🙂

So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to try to make this soup at home, let’s get started!  

**Disclaimer: Please note that the highlighted links in this post are affiliate links, in which I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you purchase through those links. I have purchased all the products I recommend with my own funds and have tested and used each product before I post. Please know that I only recommend products that I like and trust and genuinely believe would help my audience. Thank you for your support of my blog in this way!

Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup:

Ingredients:

– 2 dungeness crabs, 6 blue crabs (cooked and picked over), or 1 large can of pasteurized crabmeat

– 1 bunch fresh asparagus (white preferred for a monotone soup, but green is great as well)

– 1 dried snow mushroom, soaked overnight until rehydrated.

– 1 carton fresh quail eggs (12-18 eggs), boiled.

– 6 quarts (1.5 gallons) of chicken stock

– 2 tablespoons chicken or mushroom seasoning

– 2 teaspoons fish sauce 

– 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste

– 1/2 cup tapioca starch

– 1 cup cold water

– 2 beaten eggs, placed in separate bowl

– Sesame oil, add in few drops toward the end of cooking

– freshly chopped cilantro and green onions for garnish

– freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Equipment Used:

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, Zyliss Lobster Cracker, Global 7″ Vegetable Knife

Directions:

1.  If using live crabs, boil and remove the meat from the crabs.  Set aside.

2.  Wash asparagus and break off the hard woody bottom parts of the stalk. Asparagus will easily snap off at the partition of the woody part and the tender part. (See my YouTube video that is attached below this blog post)  Slice the asparagus into 1″ slices in a diagonal fashion.

3.  After soaking the snow mushroom in cold water for a couple hours until softened and expanded, remove from the water, shake off excess water, and chop into small pieces.

4.  If using canned quail eggs, rinse, drain, and set aside.  If using fresh quail eggs, boil the eggs for about 10 minutes and place all the eggs into a bowl of cold water.  Peel each egg while holding it submerged in the water.  This will help the shell to come off much easier and cleaner.

5.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of tapioca starch with 1 cup of cold water.  Mix well into a uniform slur.  This mixture will be used to thicken up the soup later.

6.  In another bowl, beat together 2 eggs.  Set aside.

7.  Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large stockpot.  If you want more chicken flavor, you can add more chicken powder (bouillon granules) or mushroom powder.  

8.  Add the lump crabmeat to the stock and cook at a steady simmer. This will draw out the sweetness of the crabmeat into the stock and give it a lot of great crab flavor. Allow the soup to simmer for 2 minutes before adding in 2 teaspoons of sugar.

9. Bring the soup back to a boil and add in the tapioca-water mixture that you prepared earlier. Give the soup a good stir while you add in the tapioca mixture. Keep stirring until the soup gets thicker. You want the consistency of a Chinese restaurant-style egg drop soup. If your soup is too thick, add in a little water to thin out. If you want the soup to be thicker, add more cornstarch to a bowl and mix with cold water, then add mixture to the boiling soup.

Add tapioca starch mixture and continuously stir soup until it becomes thick and viscous.

10. When the soup reaches the desired consistency (thick and viscous but still fluid), add in the beaten eggs in a gradual stream while constantly stirring to form beautiful egg ribbon strands (very much like egg drop soup). You can refer to my attached YouTube video below for a full tutorial.

11. Increase the heat and add in the cut asparagus. Cook until tender. Add in the chopped snow mushroom if using. Remember, the mushroom is optional. Much of Asian cuisine has to do with texture and mouthfeel. The added snow mushroom gives the soup a pleasant crunchy texture to contrast the silkiness of the cooked asparagus and tender crabmeat.

12. As the asparagus is cooking, add a few drops of fish sauce to the soup. This will add umami flavor to your soup. Don’t add too much fish sauce because it will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the soup. Add about 1/2 teaspoon only.

13. Continue simmering the soup until asparagus becomes tender and silky. At this point, bring the soup back up to a gentle boil and add in the peeled quail eggs. Again, this ingredient is also optional. Simmer the soup until all ingredients are well blended and smooth, about another 10 minutes.

14. When the soup is in its last couple minutes of cooking time, add in 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sesame oil to the soup. This will impart a lovely flavor and aroma to the soup.

15. When the soup is done, ladle it out into bowls and sprinkle freshly ground black or white peppercorns, finely minced cilantro and green onions onto the soup.

Add finely minced cilantro and green onions for a delightfully fragrant and delicious soup!

This soup is wonderful for hot summer days as well as cold winter nights. Best of all, this soup is very low in calories and dense in nutrients. I hope you try out this elegant soup and enjoy it with family and friends!

** You can check out my full instructional video on how to make Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup here: