Monday, October 12, 2009

Say Hello to the Soup Floozie!

I'm a self-proclaimed soup floozie, and I'll say it proudly because...Well...I love soup. I walk the streets searching for the next great soup and once I find it, I tell it how much I love it, how nothing compares to it, and how it's the only soup for me...Until the next soup comes along, then I say how it's not the soup, it's me, things get awkward, we see each other every once in a while, but it's not the same, not like it was in the beginning...

I don't discriminate when it come to soup, I love creamy soups, broths, chilis, stews, chowders, bisques, hot, cold, lukewarm...I'm a equal opportunity soup lover.

The thing about soup is that it's easy to make, isn't fussy, and requires very little measuring. Plus, you can add pretty much anything to soup and it's going to taste good. It's also easy to get that down-home creamy taste and texture without adding the ingredients that clog your arteries, cause inflammation, and make you fat.

You may be asking yourself, how do you make creamy soup without cream? Well, sit back and let me tell you about the cashew, or more importantly, cashew cream because a) It's easy to make and b) acts as a healthy replacement for cream in your soups.

Cashews provide essential fatty acids, B vitamins, fiber, protein, potassium, iron, and zinc...That's right, they're good for you, and although they do contain a small percentage of saturated fat, it's a healthy fat. So, just don't go scarfing down an entire bowl of the little guys on your own and you'll be fine.

Here is a simple recipe for cashew cream that I snagged out of "Super Natural Cooking" by Heidi Swanson (GREAT book)

Cashew Cream
Makes about 2 cups.

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1 1/2 cups water, plus more as needed
2 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
Squeeze of lemon juice

Soak the cashews in a small bowl of warm water for 20 or 30 minutes to soften them up, making a smoother, silkier cream. Drain and add the water, nutritional yeast and salt. Puree with a blender or food processor until smooth and of a cream-like consistency. (You may need to add additional water to achieve the right consistency.) Season with a squeeze of lemon juice, stir, taste, and add a bit of additional salt if needed.

If you don't believe me and want to see the awesomeness of the cashew for yourself, try this recipe from the February 2009 issue of VegNews Magazine...It'll make your toes curl.

Clam-free Chowdah!
Serves 4

2 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan margarine
1/4 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, cut into large pieces
1/4 tsp garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme, dried
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 tsp natural smoke flavor
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp fresh parsley, minced

In a skillet over medium-low heat, saute 1 Tbsp margarine and oyster mushrooms for 7 mintues, set aside.

In a blender, grind the cashews to a fine powder then add 1 cup veggie broth. Blend until completely smooth.

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp margarine, onion, cauliflower, and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, then add bay leaves, thyme, white pepper, remaining veggie broth, cashew mixture and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat and cook for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Using either an immersion blender or regular blender, blend until completely smooth. Add potatoes and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. Stir in the smoke flavor and add the mushrooms. Serve hot, garnished with sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and fresh parsley.

Stay tuned for more ways to get your soup fix!

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