Jan 10
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home.”  — Edith Sitwell

Healthy Garden Vegetable Chowder

I’m convinced that I have some Ursus californicus mixed into my human DNA, because when winter hits I start getting the urge to swath myself in large soft blankets, make cups of steaming hot herbal tea, and sit with a good book.  In short, I hibernate.  Combine this tendency with my love for soup, and I bet you can guess what I make a lot of during the winter months.  To me soup is total comfort food, no matter the time of year, but winter has me reaching for healthy, hearty concoctions.

Making the chowder

I recently made a vegetarian chowder that is so healthy you could eat the contents of the entire soup pot without feeling the slightest twinge of guilt.  I’ve been using vegetarian dashi (Japanese style stock) more than my traditional dashi recently, and this chowder is no exception, sporting a kombu and shiitake dashi as its base.  Once the stock is made, the shiitake mushroom caps are sliced and used along with a variety of vegetables to make this flavorful guilt-free chowder.  Embrace your inner ursus and come hibernate with me by enjoying a pot of this chowder!

Garden Vegetable Chowder

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Garden Vegetable Chowder

Makes 3 to 4 servings

For the mushroom stock:
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
1 piece kombu (approximately 6-square inches in size)

For the chowder:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size carrot, sliced
1/4 cup diced onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 cup chopped green cabbage
1 cup chopped spinach
1 cup diced zucchini

1. Make the mushroom stock: Place the dried shiitake mushrooms and kombu in a pot with the water. Bring the water almost to a boil and then turn down the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the stock stand for 3 minutes. Squeeze the mushrooms to release the stock they have soaked up, then strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer and set aside. Cut off and discard the shiitake stems and then slice the caps into thin slices and set aside.

2. Make the chowder: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute the carrot, onion, garlic, and ginger over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the broth, soy sauce, mirin, sliced shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, and spinach to the saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the zucchini and then cook for 4 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzi January 10, 2012 at 10:10 am

Just saw this on Twitter and it looks amazing. Fresh, healthy and hearty. Lovely photos as well.


LiztheChef January 10, 2012 at 10:44 am

Can you hear me growling? Love this healthy, perfect winter soup…


Urban Wife January 10, 2012 at 10:51 am

I just ate my lunch but this veggie chowder sounds tempting! Even though our “winters” here in Florida are mild, soups and chowders definitely make it on our weekly menu. So easy and filling! I’m glad to have another recipe for my arsenal. :)


paperandthepea January 10, 2012 at 10:55 am

That looks delicious!


Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar January 10, 2012 at 11:31 am

This is simply pure deliciousness!


RJ (Kids and Cast Iron) January 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Soups and chowders are a must for winter. I love most all chowder. Tonight I am making clamless chowder.


Erin January 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I also love soup this time of year, love the large chunks of veggies in this soup.


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme January 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm

What an incredibly beautiful and tasty soup! I agree that soup is total comfort food no matter the time of year and this is one of the most comforting looking soups I’ve seen in some time. Outstanding!


Meg T January 10, 2012 at 8:09 pm

This looks SO good!


chinmayie @ love food eat January 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

This is my kind of soup!!


Krista {BudgetGourmetMom} January 11, 2012 at 9:23 am

That soup is beautiful! There is definitely something about winter that makes me want to hibernate. Staying cozy in my little cave with some soup, a book, a blanket…heaven.


Terra January 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I love cool weather, and I love warm cozy food during cool weather! This soup looks like a perfect comfort food, so hearty and delicious:-) Take care, Terra


Kath (My Funny Little Life) January 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

You have bear genes? LOL. :D

This chowder looks wonderful. I’m always amazed how much flavor shiitake mushrooms add to dishes.


Lisa A January 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Just watched the documentary Forks over Knives last night. Which encourages us to eat a whole grain and vegetable diet. And then I stumble onto this recipe. It looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it. Highly recommend the doc. too.


Lisa A January 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm

With the risk at showing my ignorance. Why is this called a chowder as opposed to a soup?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) January 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

@Lisa A — Depending on where you are from, you might not agree that this is a chowder. In the Northeast US, a chowder would usually be cream-based. However, in other areas, a chowder is just a way of indicating that a particular soup is more of a chunky stew, which this is!


love cooking January 17, 2012 at 11:23 pm

This is a healthy dish and perfect to serve with rice. It seem like a Chinese style soup to me. :)


Fuji Mama (Rachael) January 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

@love cooking — I think this is an area where Japanese dishes still have a lot in common with Chinese cuisine!


coco mer February 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm

gorgeous photos!

i just made a lazy-person’s veggie chowder and was blown away by how it warmed my bones, without any of the traditional chowder cronies.

lisa a- i had thought that chowders were typically opaque soups, whether thickened by cream or flour-based roux (not corn starch or root flour slurried). let me know what you find and if you agree with me calling my latest cold-weather supper recipe “Roasted Cauliflower CHOWDER”?



Fuji Mama (Rachael) February 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

@coco mer — Thanks! Depending on where you are from, you might not agree that this is a chowder. In the Northeast US, a chowder would usually be cream-based. However, in other areas, a chowder is just a way of indicating that a particular soup is more of a chunky stew, which this is!

See for example: http://www.ochef.com/974.htm

According to my background, I would call your roasted cauliflower chowder a bisque. It’s interesting how different regions and cultures can view things differently!


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