Morning Comfort Food: Savory Congee

Vegan Congee with Shiitake Mushrooms by An Unrefined Vegan

I recently read The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner and ever since I’ve been even more mindful of including some key ingredients in my meals:

  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Brown rice
  • Greens 
  • Ginger & turmeric
  • Soy
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans

There are other “blue zone” foods, of course, but since I particularly enjoy these, it’s been easy to incorporate them to an even greater extent into my diet.

Buettner’s book focuses on 5 different areas around the globe – called Blue Zones – where the people live healthfully and energetically into their 100s. Although the diets vary between the Zones, there are certain similarities between the groups such as daily moderate exercise (lots of walking, gardening), not over-eating, eating from their gardens and/or locally, and forming close bonds with friends and community. Lots of whole fruits and veggies (along with moderate amounts of oil and even some animal products) keep these lucky centenarians active in body and mind. Now, I’m not sure that I want to live into my 100s, but I’d absolutely like to feel good and to stay active into my old age, whatever that age may be.

This easy recipe for comforting and savory congee makes for a richly-flavored breakfast that gets your day started off with many of the “blue zone” foods and it’s a great way to take a break from sweet morning foods. This would also make a soothing food for when feeling under the weather; that ginger and black pepper bite is wonderful on a sore throat.

Vegan Congee with Shiitake Mushrooms by An Unrefined Vegan

Savory Vegan Congee
Serves 4
Every once in a while I need something savory at breakfast rather than the usual sweet oatmeal. This perfectly hits the spot every time. It also makes a comforting and soothing meal for when you're not feeling 100%.
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Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
24 hr
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
24 hr
229 calories
46 g
0 g
2 g
8 g
0 g
563 g
1421 g
3 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 229
Calories from Fat 17
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 1421mg
Total Carbohydrates 46g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 3g
Protein 8g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 cup brown rice (I used long grain), soaked in water overnight, rinsed and drained
  2. 3 cups water
  3. 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  4. 1 small onion, diced
  5. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 1" piece of fresh ginger root (peeled), grated
  7. 3 Tbsp. tamari or low sodium soy sauce
  8. 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
  9. 8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
  10. 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  11. Large handful of baby kale, or other green
  12. Cilantro, for topping, optional
  13. Chopped scallions, for topping, optional
  1. Add all of the ingredients, except for the kale and toppings, to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat so that the rice is at a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 60-90 minutes, or until rice is tender and most of the liquid has cooked off (but not dry). About 10 minutes before cooking has finished, stir in the baby kale.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings. Divide between four bowls and sprinkle with optional toppings.
  1. Pre-soaking the rice isn't necessary, but I've gotten into the habit. It speeds up the cooking time and I think makes for a moister end product.
  2. You can also use dried mushrooms. Just chuck some in with all of the other ingredients.
  3. This can be made in a rice cooker as well.
  4. Updated 11/25/2016: I've also made this in my Instant Pot. Just chuck everything into the pot - including the kale. Reduce the amount of liquid to 3 1/2-4 cups and cook for 10 minutes. Release the pressure after about 6 minutes. The consistency of the rice will be different (not as puffy), but it's absolutely delicious.
An Unrefined Vegan

Vegan Congee with Shiitake Mushrooms by An Unrefined Vegan

Vegan Congee with Shiitake Mushrooms by An Unrefined Vegan

29 thoughts on “Morning Comfort Food: Savory Congee

  1. Pingback: Morning Comfort Food: Savory Congee | Harvey Diamond Fan Page

  2. Angela @ Canned Time

    Brown rice is one of my favorite starches and the flavors you’ve mixed in are also staples so good to know some things I crave are good for me. Actually all the foods that you list from the book are favorites so that’s easy. I’ve been mixing in a little wild rice in my salads lately but its kind of hard for me to eat by itself like here. Always soak my rice and rinse it like 5 times. I had an elderly Arabic woman teach me how to make perfect long grain rice years ago and that’s the first step.
    Anyway. I’m wishing I had a bowl of this to get me through our cold wet weekend now.

  3. Strength and Sunshine

    I want to live into my 100s!!!
    I’ve never had congee, but the recipes I see always so look so lovely! I never have a savory breakfast, but I think this might do the trick to convert me 😉

  4. Ricki

    My hubby works with lots of Chinese people who eat congee all the time. The stuff I’ve tried is VERY watery, and the rice is more or less totally dissolved. . . I wasn’t a fan. 😉 But yours looks ah-may-zing! I also love the combination of flavors you’ve added here. A must-try. 🙂

  5. xplorexpress

    I do mine in a crockpot, starting it before going to bed… it is ready when I wake up. I put rice as well as mung beens… it is de-li-cious 🙂

  6. Ana @ Ana's Rocket Ship

    That looks really good. I may start by eating it as a lunch – and then move onto having it for breakfast!!! (baby steps)

  7. Pixie @ Cheerfully Vegan

    How did you know? Just this morning I commented to my hubby that we should try to figure out how to eat more veggies vs fruit (especially now that fall/winter is here and the variety of fruit is disappearing). I was thinking I should figure out some Asian breakfast recipes, because I know they are not sweet and they use plenty of veggies. Thanks for providing such a quick answer! LOL

  8. Kristen

    Hey lady! This looks so good, just my type of recipe. Quick question: Do the shitakes go in with the rice or the kale?

      1. Kristen

        I put them in about halfway through…because I didn’t check back for an answer even though you were so prompt! Thanks for answering!

        I used black rice because it was all I had, but it turned out so delicious. Great recipe, lots of flavor! I’m thinking I’ll throw some avocado on top tomorrow morning, because why not.

  9. The Vegan 8

    I’ve never heard of this, but I’m in love with the ingredients, so I know I’d love it! All that awesome flavor!

  10. Christine (The Raw Project)

    This looks wonderful! I recently tried congee for the first time on the vegan Alaskan cruise, it was a regular in the breakfast buffet and delicious! Looking forward to trying this recipe, thanks!

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  12. tearoomdelights

    It’s strange the way things crop up in different places at the same time. I’ve just watched a documentary about Villagrande in Sardinia, one of the Blue Zones, and it was the first time I’d heard the term. Several things struck me about all the centenarians interviewed, in addition to eating a good balanced diet. In the Sardinian case, the emphasis was on home-grown or locally grown produce, as you say, and there was no processed food to be seen anywhere. They all had positive outlooks on life, and had worked hard, lived simply and had good support networks. Basically, they were pretty happy people and it made for uplifting viewing. Back to your congee, it looks very wholesome and just the sort of thing I’d like to eat out of a bowl wrapped up in my duvet of an afternoon if I was feeling cold and under the weather.

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  14. Traci Styner

    I just made this today–delicious! I host vegan retreats and I’m always looking for new savory breakfast options. This is perfect and I’ll be making it regularly.

    Thanks so much for having the Instant Pot instructions–you made my life much simpler!


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