Regulator Tofu Chowder

2015-09-26 18.50.21RECIPE #73, DAY #90

ORIGINAL RECIPE: My re-creation of “Mock Clam Chowder” at the now non-existent Regulator Cafe*

TIMING: 45 minutes

DIFFICULTY: It takes some experience–or luck–to properly saute tofu

TOOLS: A non-stick wok or saute pan and a soup pot

COOK TYPE: Stovetop

HEALTH: Besides a little fat in the creamy part of the soup, this is great for you. Chock full of veggies and herbs, as well as soy protein, you’re cool. However, most people get too much (low-grade) soy in their diet from processed foods, so you might want to beware. We don’t eat a lot of processed foods, but I limit tofu to once per week.

EXPERIENCE: The Regulator Bookshop in Durham used to have a cafe in the basement. I would go there to write and occasionally grab a drink or even a meal. At the time I was a vegetarian, and my favorite thing on the menu was something they called “Mock Clam Chowder.” One day, I asked the waitress if she could give me a recipe for the soup. She said no, but she could give me some hints about what was in the soup.

I went home, and within the week had tasted my way to this version of the soup. I still crave it!

NOTES: I have a pet peeve against likening vegetarian foods to some sort of meaty counterpart. Calling this “mock clam chowder” is a huge misnomer. Sure, it’s a chowder, but it has nothing to do with clams. Therefore, I have never called it “mock clam chowder” to anyone therefore incurring misplaced expectations. Just enjoy it for what it is.

Also, the original soup was vegan, but I didn’t have a reason to substitute the dairy for soy milk or rice milk or whatever. Feel free to veganize it; it takes great that way.


  1. Heat a non-stick wok or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 package diced extra-firm tofu and 2-4 tablespoons soy sauce. Simmer until moisture has almost absorbed, then add 2 tablespoons safflower oil. Saute, moving frequently, until tofu is golden. Remove from pan and set aside on some paper towel.
  2. In a soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add 1 diced onion and 2 diced stalks of celery and saute until the onion begins to brown.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons flour and stir for 30 seconds.
  4. Whisk in 4 cups vegetable broth and increase heat. Add 3 medium peeled and diced potatoes (I like Yukon gold), 3 cups sweet corn, 4 teaspoons dried thyme, and 4 teaspoons dried marjoram. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are soft.
  5. Over low heat, add 1 cup whole milk and your golden tofu and heat until warm throughout. Taste for salt and pepper.


Serve with a green salad with blue cheese, craisins, and walnuts.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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