And Now That It’s Actually Soup Weather…
Let’s eat more soup. I’ve become a soup-a-vore. It’s all I want to eat, it’s all I want to cook. I am eating more than just soup, but it’s rare that I don’t wish I was eating soup instead. Have I lost it? Probably. But when I’m noshing on gorgeous creations like this:
So, forever ago I bought an oyster mushroom kit from our local foods store. It was a big box with beautiful illustrations of mushrooms on it, and the directions seemed simple enough (mist with water twice a day for 10 days, keep covered in a cool and dim spot), so I figured what the hell. Granted, I could buy a good amount of oyster mushrooms for the $20 it cost me, but it’s about the experience, people. Anyway, I misted dutifully for 10 days and nothing happened. Not even a little budding of spores or whatever. Irritated, I stopped misting and forgot about the whole thing for about a month. Then about a week ago, I opened the closet with my neglected mushroom spores, and they were huge. Like, creepy behemoth huge. A lot of the larger parts had this white, foamy mold-looking stuff on them (+1 yummy!), so I tossed those, but underneath were smaller ‘shrooms that look just like the ones I buy in the grocery store! This incredibly long story about impatience and neglect is a lead-in for telling you that my favorite way to eat oyster mushrooms is in ‘clam’ chowder. I used to love me some clam chowder back in my meat-eating days, and when I discovered that oyster mushrooms have basically the exact same texture as clams (gross, but true) I was so pumped. I used to make oyster mushroom chowder pretty regularly in my early vegan days, but it’s been awhile, and I was long overdue.
I had a basic idea of what I wanted my chowder to be like, but thought I should look at some recipes to make sure I was going to get the right consistency. The closest I found to what I wanted was the shiitake mushroom chowder with sea vegetables from 30 Minute Vegan – potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, and plant milk. Granted, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, so I changed it up, and now I’m going to let you see my version! Obviously, instead of shiitakes, I used oyster mushrooms, but I also am a little sea vegetable sensitive (that fishy flavor that I once loved so much now can make my tummy weirded out if it’s too strong), so I substituted a little kelp powder for the arame. Instead of making my own macadamia milk (wtf?) from the arame soaking water, I used plain, unsweetened almond milk. Also, I was out of celery. And I used different potatoes. And I changed the method some. Ok, now I’ll write all of that in a manner that makes sense.
Oyster Mushroom Chowder, adapted from 30 Minute Vegan
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt (I used kosher, if you’re using a finer salt, start with 1/2 tsp and add more at the end if needed)
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup carrots, diced small
1 cup onion, diced small
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced small (or 2 teensy red bell peppers, which is what I had on hand)
3-4 cups oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp kelp powder
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 cups plain, unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
This is supposed to be a 30 minute meal. Normally, I do mise en place, and have everything chopped before I start adding things to the pot, but that method will slow you down here. The idea is to get the heartier veggies (potatoes, carrots) into the pot and let them start cooking while you chop and add the other veggies. Keeping that in mind…
Get your large soup pot going over medium-low heat (kind of more to the medium side, though, you want a sizzle) and add the potatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Keep the 1 cup of water nearby to add in drizzles in case things start to stick to the bottom of the pot as you go. You may not use the entire 1 cup of water (I used about 3/4). Stir it all up, then add the rest of the veggies as you chop them, stirring as you add them. My order went carrots, onions, garlic, mushrooms, red bell peppers. Next, add the kelp powder and celery seed and keep stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water as necessary until the veggies are fork tender. Once they are, add the soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and almond milk. Using an immersion blender, blend about 1/3 of the soup. You want it to be smooth, but with nice chunks of potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms still floating around. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer some of the soup to a food processor or blender, or just get an immersion blender already. Finally, add the parsley and make sure everything is heated through. Taste for salt. (I used the entire tsp of salt and all of the soy sauce and it was perfect for me, but I like salt. If you don’t, make sure you start with only 1/2 tsp salt at the beginning of the recipe.) Devour.
This soup is somehow incredibly rich even though it’s relatively low in fat. I think it has a lot to do with cooking the potatoes in the pan instead of simmering them. I don’t know why, I just do. The sea flavor is just barely noticeable, but is heightened by pairing the kelp powder with the parsley. If you don’t like that particular flavor (I used to be in the same boat, friends!), leave out the kelp. Easy peasy. Here’s hoping this flavorful, filling chowder keeps you warm and cozy on a chilly night just like it’s doing for me tonight.
Local: red bell peppers, oyster mushrooms, garlic.