Tal Ronnen‘s cashew cream is one of my favorite vegan ingredients. Similar to heavy cream, cashew cream is rich, fatty and full of flavor. I love using it in soups because it blends so nicely and the flavor works well with any kind of broth. I’ve combined the cream here in a hearty vegan chowder, packed with tons of dried oyster mushrooms and fresh king oyster stems. To infuse a rich smokiness into the broth, I melted down some raw virgin coconut oil and added a bit of liquid smoke and soy sauce. I really enjoyed making this on a late Sunday afternoon, developing the flavors and just enjoying the process before having this as a fabulous dinner that night.
2 cups of raw cashews, soaked overnight
3 1/2 cups red potatoes, diced with skin left on
2 cups dried oyster mushrooms
2 TB raw coconut oil
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp soy sauce
2 cups white onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp fresh black cracked pepper
1/2 TB salt
1/3 cup flour
3 TB mirin
9 cups fresh homemade stock, with a Not-chick’n bouillon cube thrown in
3 bay leaves
1 cup oyster mushroom stems, sliced into scallop-sized pieces (optional)
Make the cashew cream by placing the cashews in a blender. Add enough water so it slightly just covers the cashews. Blend for 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
Boil the diced potatoes in plenty of water until softened, but still al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat 2 cups of the stock in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and add the mushrooms. Place a lid on top and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside with the potatoes.
In a large stockpot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the liquid smoke, soy sauce and onion. Saute for about 7 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more. Add in the thyme, pepper and salt. Add in the flour, stirring briskly to avoid scorching. Add in the mirin to deglaze the pot.
Add in the 7 cups of remaining stock and bay leaf. Bring the stock to a boil and then immediately turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Test the stock and add more salt and pepper if desired.
Add to the pot the cashew cream, potatoes, mushroom pieces and cashew cream. Simmer for just a few minutes more. If you’d like to top the soup with some mushroom scallops, toss them in some melted earth balance and dried parsley and saute for a few minutes, until they are slightly toasted around the edges. Serve with oyster crackers or biscuits.