Call me a cashew cream convert. I’ve tried the stuff multiple times and just could never make it smooth. No matter how hard I tried, I always ended up with grainy cream sauces that were only fit to go in the trash. I blamed it on my blender – I definitely don’t have one of those fancy Blendtec or Vitamix blenders hanging about in my kitchen. Either way, I had pretty much written it off for good, until this soup.
My soon-to-be mother-in-law sent a recipe for mushroom soup over to me a couple weeks ago, and I had been waiting for a good time to make it. The soup called for a few ingredients and a bunch of steps that I didn’t want to do, so I made it my own.
One of the ingredients that soup called for was heavy cream. I knew that the creamy-ness was an essential part of the soup, and that I probably wouldn’t be able to do without it. However, I really did not want to use heavy cream, for two reasons: 1) it’s heavy cream, and 2) I only needed a bit, and I’d be left with a container of heavy cream that I didn’t know what to do with. So what did I do?
I recently bought a cookbook all about soups made from California Central Coast farmer’s markets (we have a lot of them around here). All the soups in the book are vegan, and the author uses cashew cream quite often. Her soups are really good (I’ve tried them a couple times at the markets), so I thought she couldn’t be wrong about the cashew cream. I decided to give it one last go.
Most cashew cream recipes tell you to soak it for 8 hours, but I didn’t plan this out that well in advance. So what I did was heat the water and then add the cashews, to try to give it a jump start. I really think this step was what made the cream finally work for me – the cashews need some jump start to get them soft enough. It’s okay to let them soak longer (e.g. start them in the morning), but I’d definitely recommend soaking them in hot water. Then blend it all up and you’re golden!
Cashew cream aside, this soup is phenomenal. It way surpassed my expectations, and I’ll definitely be making it again. AJ really liked it also – he ate about half of it, I think. The recipe says it serves 6… or 2 hungry AJs. I’m not quite sure how he stays so skinny.. maybe because I don’t feed him any heavy cream?
Creamy Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup
A creamy soup featuring chewy wild rice and mushrooms. With a cashew cream recipe that really works, and makes the soup taste so decadent and irresistible, but without any dairy!
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: Dinner
For the cashew cream:
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 2/3 cup water
For the rice:
- 4 cups water
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic, whole, peeled
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup wild rice
For the soup:
- 1/4 cup butter, vegan or otherwise
- 16 oz (two boxes) cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 2/3 cup cooking sherry
- 4 cups vegetable broth*
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped chives, for garnish
- sour cream, vegan or otherwise, for garnish
For the Cashew Cream:
- Add the water to the measuring cup and microwave on high for a minute, until it is steaming. Pour the cashews into the hot water and set aside for 1 hour.
- Pour the cashews and their water into a blender and blend on high for a few minutes until it is very smooth. Add extra water 1 Tbsp at a time to get it to flow smoothly and quickly through the blender blades. Rub it between your fingers; you should not feel any graininess. Set aside.
For the rice:
- Combine the water, thyme, bay leaf, garlic clove, salt, & baking soda to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil & add the rice. Return to a boil, cover and cook on low until tender, about 45 minutes (see package directions for best timing estimate).
- When the rice is tender, drain through a colander into a bowl, so that the extra cooking liquid is reserved. Remove and discard the thyme, bay leaf, and garlic clove. Set the rice and liquid aside.
For the soup:
- While the rice cooks, chop your onion and mushrooms.
- Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a large pot (a cast iron dutch oven is best) and add the onion, mushrooms, tomato paste, and garlic. Cook stirring occasionally until the mushrooms release their liquid and it has evaporated some, and everything is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the sherry and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the majority of the liquid is gone.
- Add the vegetable broth, the reserved liquid from the rice, and the soy sauce. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Mix well until no lumps remain. Add this to the soup and boil for 2 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Remove from the heat.
- Measure out 1/2 cup cashew cream into a 2-cup measuring cup. While stirring, slowly add 1 cup of the soup broth (this tempers the cream so it doesn’t curdle). Then stir it all back into the soup.
- Add the rice and season to taste with salt & pepper. Served, topped with fresh chives and sour cream, if desired.
For the veggie broth, I used 4 cups water and 1 tsp Better than Bouillon vegetable paste.