Ramp, Morel Mushroom, and Potato Chowder

This is the taste of the season, welcome on the chilly nights of spring. But if you have a heat wave, you can also eat this soup chilled.

As a New Englander, I love a chowder. But at this time of year, I’m not thinking clams or corn, but the beautiful greens of spring. Greens, potatoes, mushrooms, all the delights that can make a chowder special are available right now, but depending on luck, we often have to substitute and use what is local and what is best right now.

Substitutions are a part of life if you are trying to cook seasonally. I never hesitate to swap out just about anything from the onion family when I need to, or use whatever green I find that is the best at the farm stand.

Ramps – A seasonal treasure, but if you can’t find them, you can use members of the onion family to substitute.

Here I’ve used ramps, or wild leeks, but they can be hard to find, so you can use any lovely early baby green such as arugula or spinach available to you. Just double up on the leek for the soup base and add a couple of cloves of garlic if you have to substitute. Ramps have a natural garlic flavor.

            If you can come by some fresh morels, of course use them as well. This is one wild mushroom that can be as elusive as fairy garden, so don’t hesitate to follow the recipe with dried morels, or another favorite dried mushroom. They make the best stock!

            I’ve used coconut milk to make it both dairy free and vegan to accommodate my family, but you can use half-and-half if you like. I wouldn’t use a heavier cream, because the flavors of the season need to be clear and fresh; too much fat can dull the taste buds!

            This recipe uses small fingerling potatoes, diced, but small red potatoes would be a good substitute. You want the potatoes to keep their shape.

We’ve used the pureed vegetables to thicken the soup, no need for a roux!

Ramp, Morel Mushroom, and Potato Chowder

  • Large bunch of ramps, about 12 ounces
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced
  • 1 oz. dried morel mushrooms
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter or substitute
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 star anise
  • ¼ to ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • Few grates of nutmeg 
  • 1 lb. potatoes, diced
  • 1 can light coconut milk

Prep the vegetables. Cut the bulbs and stems from the ramps and chop them up. Take half the leaves and chop them up as well, but leave the other half intact; they will be added at the end just to wilt. Slice the leek and the fennel thinly.

Bring the water to a boil and add the dried morel mushrooms. Let steep for a half to full hour. You will use both the mushroom stock and the mushrooms in the dish.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a soup pot until melted and shimmering. Add the ramp bulbs and stems, the leek, and the fennel. Sauté until nicely softened and fragrant, but do not let them brown. 

Strain the stock from the mushrooms into the pot, and reserve the hydrated mushrooms for later.

To the soup pot, add the bay leaf, star anise, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste, and the nutmeg. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes.

While the aromatics are simmering, cook the potatoes until just done but not too soft, you want texture. Drain, and reserve.

To keep the vibrant color, don’t overcook the ramp greens.

Once the aromatics are cooked, add the half of the ramp greens that are chopped up. Cook an additional five minutes, then remove the bay leaf and anise pods. Use an immersion blender to puree everything. You can also use a food processor or regular blender, in batches.

Once smooth, add the potatoes and the whole ramp greens. Let everyone get to know each other for about five minutes, then add the coconut milk and rehydrated mushrooms. Heat until the milk is warmed through. Taste and correct seasoning.

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  1. Suzassippi says:

    I wish you were my next-door neighbor. 🙂
    This looks lusciously delicious, and especially tonight when it is cool and rainy here.

    1. Thank you almost neighbor! I love a bowl of soup own a drizzly spring night. The soup is so satisfying, makes me happy at this time of year.

  2. This looks so tasty and perfect for the season. Wish I had ramps around to give it a try! 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit! Ramps are best here, but you can substitute different greens and onion family delights!

      1. Fresh ramps has such unique flavor that right now I crave, but I’m sure these would be great substitutes. I’ll play with it. 🙂

      2. They are crave worthy! The aroma is like nothing else in the world!

  3. Looks great!!

    1. Thanks Charlie! We loved it!

  4. Looks nurturing and yummy!

    1. Thank you! I felt revived after the first bite.

      1. Your’s is traditional and most authentic too! 💕🍽

      2. A lovely combination!

      3. I would love a bowl of Chowder authenticity now! ♥️

      4. I’ll save you a bowl!

  5. I love morel! (Well, who doesn’t?) This looks droolworthy!

    1. Thank you! It was pretty slurp worthy too!

  6. I bow to your creativity. Looks delicious.

    1. Thank you Judy! There is something spring intoxicating about wild leeks!

  7. Darn. I missed the ramps this year! 🌿

    1. Oh! Well, there is always next year!!! We are colder here, and we’re still in season.

  8. sunisanthosh says:

    Wow, this is a delectable dish! 😍

    1. Thank you! We loved every drop!

  9. JOY journal says:

    Mmm. Ramps grow wild all over Appalachia. I didn’t realize they appeared in the Northeast, too. 🙂

    1. A spring ritual here! So delicious!

  10. Oh swoon, I wish I was invited to dinner!

    1. Next time Jenna!

  11. Carolyn Page says:

    Yum! Star anise has been calling me lately, Dorothy. I would never have thought to add it to a soup type recipe.

    1. Such a lovely flavor and aroma, and it enhances the fennel flavor.

  12. terrie gura says:

    I always feel healthier after just looking at one of your recipes! This soup would have been welcome at my table the past few evenings, as we’ve seen a weird drop in temperatures. I will be on the lookout for morel mushrooms. I don’t often see much beyond cremini and shiitake around here, so dried will be my best hope. I also love your picture of the ramps in the basket. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Terrie, you are so kind! I had this soup cold the next day for lunch and it was delicious that way too, although we had a drop in temperature as well, so if i make it again this spring, i’ll probably serve it hot. I’m so glad you liked the photograph!.

  13. These looks so good Dorothy, I bet it taste great. We eat a lot of mushrooms in our family. I will have to show my husband this recipe, will have to try it out.

    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

  14. Julia says:

    This sounds so good! For some reason, I thought ramps were wild garlic, but in looking at the leaves and the bulbs in the picture, they don’t look the least bit like garlic plants. I learned something new.

    1. They are often referred to as wild leeks or wild garlic because they do have a garlic essence to their flavor.

  15. I have never seen or tasted ramps but the morel mushrooms are one of my favorite mushrooms! When I was a kid we used to hunt them in the woods as my dad knew where they grew wild every year. Oh how I wish I did now! Your chowder must taste fabulous Dorothy!

    1. Thank you Diane! It was really delicious. Love your memories of hunting the morels with your dad. They can often be hard to see! My uncle use to take me foraging for mushrooms and it was a delightful experience. I remember him pointing out a morel to me and I told him I couldn’t see it since they can camouflage themselves in tree debris. He told me I was looking too hard!

  16. chef mimi says:

    You always get to use the most fun ingredients! Great looking soup!

    1. Thank you Mimi! It was a delicious soup!

  17. Love chowder and your recipe looks wonderful

  18. Love this it looks so good and I have a mushroom guru just down the road from me he grows everything! Dunks Mushrooms he is amazing!

    1. How wonderful to have your own mushroom guru! A splendid culinary resource!!!

      1. I was 30 before I tried one now I eat them all the time <3

  19. Happy brand new week!💕💫🍃🌺🍃 Reblogging to MissBackInTheDayUSA! Cheers!

    1. Thank you so much!!!!❤️

  20. kevinashton says:

    Your wild onions (ramps) look tasty and morels are one of my favourite wild mushrooms. In my last job in America at a restaurant called the Tuscany Inn in Virginia, we grew lots of vegetables, herbs and mushrooms in the fall. The owner was very suspicious when we picked a few and added them to the specials of the day. He felt sure they were toadstools until he saw us eating some. 🙂

    1. So funny! Morels are one of my favorites, so flavorful, and easy to identify. But I can see him panic at the thought of foraging, so many people are so far removed from the environment around them. I was lucky to grow up in the country in New England, and foraging is such a way of life still. My Uncle Leonard in particular knew every plant that was edible, although, I’m afraid, they were not always palatable!

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