Monday, August 2, 2010

Lemon Cucumber Cashew Cream Soup

Yesterday at my favorite coffeeshop in LA, the handwritten menu board read "Gazpacho!"  And I was like, really?  Does gazpacho really deserve an exclamation point?  Isn't it just like drinking salsa?

I am a very, very adventurous eater.  In fact, when people ask me what I like to eat I'm sometimes unsure what to say.  I like... food.  Everything that's not animal products or weird processed things I could never make myself.  Olives, pickled foods, and tomatoes were the very last holdouts, and we've more than made our peace quite a while ago.

But...cold soup?

When I saw this recipe on Seaweed Snacks, though, I was intrigued, mostly because I'll try anything made out of cashews.  And it was great!  Maybe more cold soup is in my future.  Moreover, now that I know how easy it is to make cashew milk (and how delicious it is), I'll do that again, too.

Cashew milk and leftover cashew pulp

The garnish, which I changed a bit from the original recipe, really made the dish.  Rather than use still more cashews, I just used the leftover pulp from making the milk.  Baked with some tamari and spices, the result is a spicy, crunchy, and slightly caramelly foil to the creamy brightness of the soup.

Lemon Cucumber Cashew Cream Soup

1/2 c raw cashews
1 1/2 c water
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/2-1 tsp salt, to taste
zest of 2 lemons (or a bit less)
2 TB fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tsp chopped shallot or onion
1 TB olive oil
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2-1 tsp tamari

1. Soak cashews in water overnight. Discard water and add cashews to blender with 3 cups water. Blend on high until smooth (about 1minute). Using a metal strainer over a bowl, pour cashew milk into bowl and separate any large pieces of cashew that may not have been blended. Save these!
2. Now, in the blender blend cashew milk with cucumber, salt, lemon zest and juice, onion, and olive oil. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into a bowl with a metal strainer to catch any pieces that have not been blended. Taste for salt.
3. Take the reserved cashew chunks that were leftover from straining the milk, and mix them with curry powder, paprika, and tamari.  Spread this mixture out on a baking tray and cook at medium low temperature (preferably in a toaster oven) until the mixture has dried out and the tamari caramelized (about 10 minutes at 300*).  Scrape this off the tray and crumble it up.
4. Garnish each bowl of soup with a spoonful of cashew-spice garnish and an extra drizzle of olive oil on top. Serves 2-3.

In other news, the pathetic Purple Pistachio Pesto actually looked much better the next day, even before I put it in this pasta salad with pasta, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, parsley, salt, pepper, and more lemon juice.  It tasted good, but I wasn't happy with the textural redundancy of the pasta and chickpeas: either wheat berries with chickpeas, or pasta with walnuts, would have been better.

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