This soup combines two of my favorite recipes—Eileen Yin Fei Lo’s gingery Chinese chicken broth and Jacques Pépin’s chicken breast stuffing—with one of my favorite techniques, wonton as ravioli. Eileen introduced me to Chinese-style chicken broth when she appeared on my show to make recipes from her book The Chinese Way. In the comfort category, it is right up there with the Jewish version. In the healing category, how can you miss with not one but two major restoratives: old-fashioned chicken soup and fresh ginger?
The stuffing is based on the kind that Jacques Pépin used to put under the skin of chicken breasts when he was a guest chef at La Tulipe in the early eighties. He would take the little flap of meat under the chicken breast, the part called the filet or tenderloin, and grind it up with cream and flavorings. It was mousselike and delicious. Here I have substituted a chicken breast for the tenderloin because you can’t find tenderloins all by themselves in the supermarket.
I learned that wontons are a great stand-in for home-made ravioli from an article entitled “Wonton Ravioli” that was published years ago in Gourmet. They are definitely an important item to have in the freezer. You can stuff wontons with just about anything, and your guests will be impressed because they will think you made pasta from scratch. They are available in the frozen food section of many supermarkets these days.
Speaking of frozen, both the soup and the ravioli (uncooked) freeze well. Just keep it all wrapped tightly in the freezer. That way you will always be prepared for the day you wake up feeling a little under the weather.
2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
One 4-inch-long piece fresh ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half, about 6 ounces, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon crushed ice
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cornstarch as needed
36 round wonton skins, preferably Japanese gyoza skins
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Trim off all but 1 inch of the scallion greens, chop the greens, and reserve for garnish. Cut each of the scallions into 4 pieces. Combine the stock, scallion pieces, ginger, and garlic in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes or longer. Strain and discard the solids. (The broth can be made a day ahead. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.)
Place the chicken in a food processor and pulse several times to grind finely. Add the ice and process until the ice is absorbed. With the blade in motion, add the cream. Pulse in the lemon zest and salt to blend. Chill for 1 hour. Sprinkle a sheet pan with cornstarch to hold the wontons before cooking.
Working with a few wonton skins at a time and keeping the remaining wonton skins covered, mound 1 tablespoon of the chicken mixture in the center of each skin. Moisten the edges with water and place another wonton skin on top. Press on the edges to seal completely. Repeat until the entire filling is used. As they are done, transfer to the sheet pan.
Just before serving, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in 2 batches, drop the ravioli into the boiling water, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until tender and the chicken mixture is thoroughly cooked, 3 to 5 minutes. Bring the water back to a boil before proceeding with the final batch. Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon and arrange 3 in the center of each serving bowl. (The wontons are best if used just after boiling. Place them right into the serving bowls. If they cool, the hot broth will warm them.)
Reheat the broth almost to boiling, season with salt and pepper to taste and ladle over the wontons. Garnish with the cilantro and chopped scallion greens. Serve right away.