Maryland-style Old Bay Vegetable Soup with Shiitake, Celery and Kabocha Squash

I'm just gonna keep todays post brief because I'm about to head off to Seattle to visit my friend Sasha from Tending the Table! We've been planning this get together for months and I can't wait to squeeze her. I'm also pretty stoked to soak in those cloudy, rainy, coffee-infused Seattle vibes.

This Old Bay vegetable soup has to be one of my favorite dinners of the season. Delicate shiitake mushrooms and creamy roasted kabocha squash swim in a celery-infused tomato broth, spiced generously with Old Bay seasoning -- with a heaping of cilantro stirred in right at the end. It's spicy, nourishing, cozy (without being heavy) and it has that seafood-kind-of-flavor that is totally irresistible.

Ever since the first hint of chill wafted through the mountains I've been wanting to do a plant-based riff on on one of my favorite non-vegan soups: Maryland Crab Soup. A lot of people are familiar with cream-based she-crab soup (very popular in all of the crabbing states). But Maryland Crab Soup gets less notoriety. Traditionally it's a beef broth stewed with tomatoes, onion, corn, green beans or lima beans, carrots and of course lump crab meat. Other than the broth, it's basically a vegetable soup with seafood added in right before serving. The most important ingredient is Old Bay, of course! That magical blend of paprika, cardamom, bay, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, celery salt, mace, mustard, allspice and cayenne (you can't tell me this isn't the curry of the South, y'all).

In October, in between chocolate cake testing, sipping a thousand herbal coffee lattes, and working on some private chef work for a friend, I managed to make this soup happen. I've been getting some gorgeous shiitakes and kabocha squash from the farmers market so I figured it was only natural that they high five each other whilst swimming in a spicy broth.

And a few other things about this soup:

It takes around 25 minutes to make.

It's killer served alongside big hunks of buttered toast. 

You could use any mushrooms you like for this soup. Oyster mushrooms or lions mane mushrooms would both be delicious!

You could also sub the kabocha for any roasted squash (I would suggest butternut or delicata). It would also be fabulous with roasted sweet potatoes.

You could stir in some baby spinach right when your done cooking for an extra kick of green.

It serves around 6 people so it's perfect for gatherings and potlucks!

Happy week-before-Thanksgiving to all of my American friends! I know lots of us use the week before Thanksgiving for Friendsgiving, so we all get lots of opportunities to show gratitude to our communities and spread some love. I hope you all know how grateful I am for all of you! Sending you all giant hugs and hoping you get to eat loads of mashed potato smothered things. xoxox -- Renee

Old Bay Mushroom and Kabocha Squash Soup

Created by Renee on November 14, 2017

Note: you can sub the mushrooms or squash for any varieties you prefer.

  • Cook Time: 25m
  • Total Time: 25m
  • Serves: 6


  • 1 small kabocha squash (~4 cups), deseeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 medium white onion (~1 cup), chopped roughly
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 stalks celery with leaves (~2 cups), chopped thinly
  • 1 red pepper (~3/4 cup)
  • 4 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cups broth or water (if just using water add 1 cube vegetarian bouillon)
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • salt + pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the kabocha squash to the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss with salt and pepper (to taste). Roast for 25 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the cubes.
  2. While the squash is cooking, set a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the chopped white onion and olive oil and sauté until the onion is sweating and becoming translucent.
  3. Stir in the chopped celery and continue to saute until the celery turns a bright green and softens slightly.
  4. Then add the red pepper, mushrooms, broth / water + bouillon, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar and Old Bay seasoning. Stir everything together, cover and cook for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms and peppers are tender. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. When ready to serve, stir in the roasted kabocha squash. Serve hot.