A New England clam chowder without clams? Most definitely. Serve it with onion rings or oven-baked sweet potato fries to make a tasty, satisfying meal.
- 4 tsp butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic (4-6 cloves)
- 5 cups water
- 3 cups cubed potato (2-3 potatoes)
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (like carrot and corn)
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp salt or to taste
- 2 Tbsp minced nori seaweed* or to taste
- 2 cups chopped button mushrooms
- 1 cup half-and-half (cream)
- ⅓ cup unbleached white flour
- 1-2 Tbsp simulated bacon bits
- 1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 Tbsp minced fresh)
*Fold a nori sheet 3 times and mince it with scissors. Nori flakes are also available in a shaker—a tasty Japanese condiment called furikake. You can find furikake in Asian markets and the Asian section of some grocery stores. You can also use any other type of seaweed, such as hijiki or arame. These should be soaked for a few minutes first, then minced.
- Melt 2 teaspoons of the butter in a 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until they begin to brown.
- Increase the heat to high and add the water, potato, mixed vegetables, bay leaves, thyme, pepper, 1¾ teaspoons of the salt, and 1 tablespoon of the nori. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potato is tender.
- Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 teaspoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes until they begin to brown. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon nori to the mushrooms along with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook for another 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Now, combine the half-and-half with the flour until a smooth paste forms. Add the paste to the soup, stirring constantly to ensure that no lumps form. The soup should thicken immediately. Add the simulated bacon bits and parsley.
- Once the potato is tender, remove from the heat. Stir in the nori mushroom mixture. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Ladle into bowls and serve.
Tips/Variations: Canned mushrooms instead of fresh: Several testers used canned mushrooms instead of fresh and said it was unbelievable how much the texture resembled clams. If you use them, simply reduce the mushroom measurement to 1 cup and rinse and drain them well.