Kitchn Love Letters

The $2 Trader Joe’s Pantry Staple That Got Me Through the Winter

published Mar 24, 2022
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Credit: Lauren Masur

I’d just gotten home on a chilly winter evening and, as flurries fell, I suddenly wanted one thing: dumplings. Those sumptuous pockets of various fillings and savory flavors are without substitute when the mood (or weather) strikes. To avoid leaving the house, and the guilt of summoning Seamless in the snow, I turned to my freezer for answers. Luckily, I had stockpiled Trader Joe’s Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons, Pork Potstickers, and Thai Shrimp Gyoza for a situation just like this. 

As I crisped and steamed my dumplings in a pan, I thought about what to pair them with. A sweet and spicy dipping sauce, while a great counterpart, doesn’t offer the cozy dish the night called for — at least, not in the way a brothy dumpling soup does!

Credit: Amanda Marikar

I searched my cupboard to find the unassuming box that had piqued my curiosity during a recent trip to my local Trader Joe’s. TJ’s Miso Ginger Broth has seemingly infinite uses as a cooking liquid for quinoa or rice, the deglazing agent for pan sauce, or a poaching base for fish. Soothing as a cup of tea, and the color of amber honey, the broth would be fortifying on its own, or great flecked with green onions, and floating cubes of tofu, but I found it even more stunning when it seeped past those dumpling skins and mingled with the fillings. 

As I warmed some on the stove, plumes of steam scented with caramelized ginger and salty-sweet miso began to waft from the pot. I eagerly bathed my pillowy dumplings in the gingery elixir. It was exactly what I wanted on that wintry night: crisp dumplings suspended in fragrant, warming, dashi-like broth with the roundness and spoon-coating depth of a slow-cooked stock (it’s vegan).

Find it in stores: Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger Broth, $1.99 for 32 ounces

Credit: Amanda Marikar

Immediately, I was awash with the possibilities: Why not add some baby bok choy, sliced mushrooms, or a handful of greens for a heartier dumpling soup? Or swirl in soy or fish sauce, and sesame or hot chili oil? Speaking of spice, how about a spoonful of crispy habañeros, gochujang, or some fresh thai or green chilis? A sprinkle furikake? A jammy egg? Or even some ramen, rice, or sweet potato noodles?

It’s this opportunity to customize my soup to my heart’s content that has me reaching for a box of Miso Ginger Broth each time I visit Trader Joe’s — after stopping by the dumpling aisle, of course. 

Do you have a favorite pantry staple from Trader Joe’s? Tell us in the comments.