By Chef Linda
Reminiscent of a familiar favorite, this chowder uses plant ingredients to provide the flavors we loved in the clam-based version. Sea vegetables (kelp and wakame) are used to create a subtle sea-like flavor for the broth. The directions have you strain out these out, but if you prefer to keep them in for flavor, nutrition, and texture, you'll want to remove the kelp from the soup, chop in, and return it to the pot. Sea vegetables are a source of important trace minerals and have a delicious briny taste. Old Bay Seasoning is a spice blend used in many seafood dishes and adds to the authenticity of the chowder. It contains salt, which is why salt is listed at the end with the instruction to taste first before adding it. This soup comes together quickly but should be savored slowly on a chilly day.
Manhattan Mushroom Chowder
8 cups vegetable broth
1 large piece of kelp (also known as kombu)
1/4 cup dried wakame
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, about 1 cup
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, about 1 cup
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced, about 1 tablespoon
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 to 3 medium waxy potatoes, about 1 pound, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced into thin strips
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 bay leaves
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Oyster crackers, for serving
Make the broth by simmering the vegetable broth, kelp, and wakame in a pot for about 15 minutes while you start the chowder.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables have softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and Old Bay Seasoning and cook for another couple of minutes until garlic and spices are fragrant.
Using a wire mesh strainer, strain the broth into the pot with the vegetables. Stir in the potatoes, mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, syrup, and bay leaves. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce heat to simmer, partially cover, and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove and discard the bay leaves. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.