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Mushrooms, seaweed make superfood chowder

My kids’ willingness to eat certain vegetables still surprises me. And soup is one vehicle that often delivers more veggies at mealtimes than do other dishes.

Still, I know there’s always a line I shouldn’t cross. And for my boys, that barrier is mushrooms.

It’s unfortunate, given that their dad and I are big mushroom fans, particularly since so many more varieties of mushrooms have become mainstream in the past few years. Even a recent haul of fresh chanterelles couldn’t bring my kids over to the mushroom cause. Oh, well — more for us, I’m inclined to say.

Wild mushroom season aside, this is the time for incorporating more edible fungus into the everyday diet. A superfood that enhances immune function, mushrooms are rich in chemical compounds that exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antitumor properties. Read more in a story I wrote earlier this year for Oregon Healthy Living magazine.

Combine mushrooms with another superfood — seaweed — and you have a potent health tonic. Sea vegetables, such as dulse and wakame, also enhance mushrooms’ umami flavor. Look for those dried seaweeds in health food sections and with Asian foods in grocery stores.

This recipe calls for mushroom bouillon, but commercially prepared mushroom stock could be used instead of water, or a teaspoon of mushroom base stirred in as a substitute for the specific brand of bouillon cited here. I like Better Than Bouillon brand’s base, which is widely available.

Also vegan, this recipe from Tribune News Service uses coconut oil and coconut milk, which impart a distinctive flavor. If you like coconut or follow a dairy-free diet, this dish may be just right. I likely would substitute butter and regular milk or cream for their richer, milder flavors.

Mushroom and Seaweed Chowder

1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, divided

3 scallions, trimmed and chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped

1 cup oyster mushrooms, chopped

1 teaspoon celery seed

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

1 cube Cooking Alchemy Mushroom Bouillon (optional; see note)

2 cups diced red potatoes or diced taro root

1 teaspoon dulse flakes

1 teaspoon wakame, chopped

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 tablespoon of fresh parsley

2 teaspoons smoked salt

1 cup maitake mushrooms

Smoked paprika, for garnish

Fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish

To a preheated, medium stockpot add 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil. Add the scallions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the cremini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms, along with the celery seed; mix well and saute for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk and 4 1/2 cups water; stir and bring to a light boil for 10 minutes.

Add the mushroom bouillon, if using, the taro root or potato, the dulse, wakame, sprig of thyme, parsley, and smoked salt. Stir and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat a pan and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil. Lightly pan-fry the maitake for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove, let cool and divide into fourths.

Divide chowder into 4 bowls. Add pan-fried maitake to center of each bowl and garnish with smoked paprika and sprig of thyme.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTE: Cooking Alchemy Mushroom Bouillon can be purchased at cookingalchemy.com.

Tribune News Service photo