Mushroom Chowder With Crispy Mushroom Bacon

January 10, 2023
6 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

As someone who spends most of their summer in New England, specifically Maine, there is nothing I want more on a chilly, rainy day than a big bowl of creamy fish chowder. Now just because the summer is over doesn’t mean chowder season has to be! In fact, it’s always been a little funny to me how much of a summery food a thick cream-based soup is. Who thought to themselves, why yes it’s 85 degrees out, let's eat some hot heavy cream? Seems much more suited for cooler weather, but don’t tell the Mainers I said so!

Living in a city, I don’t always have access to high-quality fresh fish so I’ve had to come up with swaps. This is why I am super grateful to live as close to the farmers market as I do because while they may not have fish, they have an excellent mushroom selection. Lion’s Mane is my mushroom of choice for this chowder because when cooked they taste similar to a whitefish or lobster! Their ruffled tops absorb whatever flavoring you pair them with and have a delightful flaky texture; making them the perfect all-purpose sub for seafood in this chowder. In keeping with the theme of finding dupes for the briny flavors of the sea, we are also finishing this chowder with bits of toasted nori from a snack pack. Enough with the changes though, chowder is still a nostalgic dish and has to have all the classics, hearty potatoes, a thick soup base, and the option of either crispy bacon or some fried mushroom bits, only if you want to keep it vegetarian, for topping.

This recipe does have a fun bonus inside, the mushroom bacon mentioned above, in testing I found myself snacking on these more than the bacon bits! I’ve made this with and without the bacon and I really think it holds up on its own as a vegetarian meal so do whatever version works for you. In the recipe, I’ll have a few spots where the vegetarian directions differ and will call those out.

A note on mushroom usage, lion's mane is my number one choice for making this but it can be a bit of a “niche mushroom” so I’d recommend subbing with an oyster or shitake mushroom. Mushrooms have varying degrees of water content so as much as I provide time estimates in this recipe if you’re making swaps be sure to look for the visual indicators as well!
Becca Jacobs

What You'll Need
  • Mushroom Chowder
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter OR optional 6 strips of bacon, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into ¼ inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 large ribs of celery, cut into ¼ inch dice (1 cup)
  • 8 ounces Lion’s Mane mushrooms, cut into ½ inch dice, see headnote for alternatives
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 11-ounce can white shoepeg corn, drained
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chives, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 0.35 ounce package of seaweed snacks (nori), cut into ¼ inch pieces, divided
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • oyster crackers, for serving
  • *Optional* Mushroom Bacon
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, like sunflower or canola
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  1. If using bacon, in a 4-quart dutch oven or pot, fry the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. In a 4-quart dutch oven or pot (or the pot used to render the bacon), heat the butter (or bacon fat) on medium-low until melted and sizzling. Add onion and celery to the pot, cooking until the mixture has noticeably reduced in size and is no longer shedding water, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the pot, stir to combine, then press the mushrooms down flat with the back of your spoon or spatula to maximize browning—leave for at least five minutes untouched. Flip a few mushrooms over and add the soy sauce, confirming they have large spots of golden brown, press down again and cook for an additional 2 minutes. See headnote about using alternative mushrooms.
  4. Once the mushrooms are browned add the stock and wine, deglazing the pan while scraping any browned pieces that are stuck on the base. Add the potatoes and corn to the pot. Rest the thyme sprigs and bay leaf on top of the chowder and bring it to a simmer for 20 minutes with the lid off and then an additional 5 minutes with the lid on to finish cooking the potatoes.
  5. If making the mushroom bacon, heat your oven to 375°F. Add soy sauce, Worcestershire, and oil to a bowl along with the thinly sliced mushrooms to marinate, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper; place mushroom slices flat on a sheet pan without any overlap. (Note: Silicone baking mats will not work for this as the mushrooms will steam too much and not get crispy.) Roast mushrooms for 20 minutes or until crispy and dark brown; they will shrink in size dramatically. Let them cool a little before using.
  6. Once the 25 minutes are up and you’ve confirmed the potatoes are cooked, fish out the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, and bring the heat down to low. Rapidly stir in the heavy cream. Remove from the heat. Optional step: with an immersion blender, blend a few small spots of the soup to thicken up the base - I prefer this method but alternatively, you could mash about a cup of the potatoes or make a cornstarch slurry with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water.
  7. Stir in half the chives and seaweed pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the chowder amongst bowls and top with the (mushroom) bacon, remaining chives, seaweed, and oyster crackers.

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1 Review

Yael S. November 6, 2023
Overall a very cozy, yummy recipe - love how the colors and flavors balance out at the end - the bacon, chives, and seaweed are great additions. As a Maine transplant I feel doubly proud I’ve now made my first chowder. I will definitely make this again. PS with prep I’d say this is more like a 45-50 mins recipe