Dean Neff, chef and owner of Seabird in Wilmington, North Carolina, creates this whelk and shiitake stew that highlights an underrated mollusk. Poached welks might seem an unlikely candidate for stew, but combined with the rich umami flavor of shiitake mushrooms, Yukon gold potatoes, and a creamy base, you’ll find this soup transitions beautifully between the summer and fall months. Read more about Dean Neff’s sea foraging excursion with Ana Shellem here.
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 shiitake mushrooms
Sea salt and olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 head celery root, roughly diced
1 large leek, white part, diced
1 medium-sized Yukon Gold potato,
peeled and diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
2½ cups low-sodium vegetable
stock or water
1 small bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup heavy cream or 2 cups
3 Poached Whelks, shaved, and salsa verde for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove mushroom caps from stems, reserving stems for court bouillon or another use. Arrange in an even layer on baking sheet, and season caps with sea salt and olive oil. Roast, rotating about halfway through, until crispy and golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- In a 5-quart stockpot over medium-low heat, add butter or oil until melted or shimmering. Add half the roasted shiitakes, celery root, leek, potato, fennel, and pinch of sea salt, and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add stock or water, thyme leaves, and bay leaves, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Let cook for 15 minutes. Add cream or coconut milk and simmer an additional 8 minutes.
- Working in batches, carefully transfer soup to a high-powered blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, using a spoon to push starches through. Return strained mixture to original soup pot. Use additional stock or water to adjust thickness to your liking. Season with sea salt to taste.
- To serve, portion soup in bowls. Garnish with shaved poached whelks, reserved roasted shiitakes, and salsa verde.