Saturday, February 26, 2011

Creamy Mushroom Quinoa Chowder (Dairy-Free)

If I was ever stranded by myself on a lost deserted island and I could only choose one CD, one pair of flip-flops, one book and one warm soup that would be in never-ending supply, I would choose Gregory Alan Isakov—That Sea That Gambler, Rainbows, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and this here Creamy Mushroom Quinoa Chowder. 

For years, this was our family's favorite soup... of all time. The kind of soup you would choose to take with you if you were going to be stranded on a lost deserted island. Was is the operative word here. It was our favorite soup, that is until we took the dairy-free oath in our household. What was a cream loving group of people to do without heavy cream? Trust me, I tried it without the cream. It was not good. So the recipe was lost to grow old by itself in the back of my recipe file.

Until last week, that is. I made this soup three different times last week. Yes, in one seven day period I made this three times. Yes, I did. I've fallen in love all over again.

The secret to the creaminess is a little something called cashew cream. I've been hearing about cashew cream for years now. But I was scared. Somehow this sounded difficult, expensive and less-than-tasty. Don't ask my why I thought those things about my beloved cashew cream. For now I know, cashew cream is the answer to all my prayers. 

Funny, but just yesterday a friend forwarded me a link saying "When I saw this post I immediately thought of you." I see that someone else feels the same way I do about creamy mushroom soup with cashew cream! Check out Joy the Baker's recent post on a a really similar version of this soup. Looks fab!

And now... the soup that will accompany me everywhere I may go in my life. Including a lost deserted island.

Creamy Mushroom Quinoa Chowder

Ingredients:
1 C quinoa, toasted
4 TBS olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
16 oz package button mushrooms, chopped
4 TBS molasses
6 C chicken broth
2 C cashew cream (2 C raw cashews + 2 C rice milk or water)
1/2 tsp salt 
pepper to taste
fresh chives

The Preparation Method:

Toast the quinoa in a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat until fragrant.

In a large soup pot, saute the onions in the olive oil over medium-high heat until caramelized, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the mushrooms.

The toasted quinoa.

And the molasses.

Stir well to combine and cook until mushrooms are limp about 10 minutes.

Add all of the chicken broth.

I love the Better Than Bullion brand. I think you'll love it too.

Stir it all together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked.

In the meantime, make your cashew cream. It's super easy. Don't be afraid. Watch...

If you are planning ahead, you can soak the raw cashews in water for many hours. Overnight is good. But 2 hours works too. And if you didn't think about soaking ahead of time, no worries. Just put the raw cashews in the blender with the liquid and you're all good.

Strain the water out.

Place them in a blender or food processor.

Add rice milk or water.

Enough to cover the cashews.

And blend until smooth.

Now you have cashew cream. Boy, that was easy wasn't it!

It's about now that the soup should be about finished cooking. The quinoa is finished cooking when it looks like it has come undone, a bit unraveled. Grab your handy immersion blender.

And blend away to your hearts content.

You're done blending when the soup is smooth.

Add the cashew cream.

Stir it around. Add salt and pepper to taste. And presto...

The creamiest darn dairy-free soup you've ever tasted! Garnish with fresh chives if you like. I didn't have any by the time I was taking pics of this dish. It's good none-the-less.

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This post is dedicated to my dear sister who comes off of a 40-day fast today. The remarkable cleansing her body has done astonishes me. She's going to need something gentle for her system. Love you sister!


Train - Hey, Soul Sister

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