Sunday, December 22, 2013

Smoky Vegan "Clam" Chowder

I'm obsessed with this chowder. I've used cashew cream in soups before, but I'd forgotten how easy and how good it was. This stew has a few more tricks up its sleeve, too: the broth is made with kombu, which imparts a slightly fishy taste. While the recipe calls for you to smoke mushrooms, I sauteed them with tamari and liquid smoke, and they emerged from the pan chewy smoky little morsels of amazing.

Also, it's really easy, considering how gourmet it tastes. I've made two half-batches in the past week. The first time I used cooked rice instead of potato, and got a very thick soup. The second time I added a bit more liquid (and went back to potato) for a brothier--but still rich--soup. I also added some sage and thyme, which made it taste more like Thanksgiving stuffing but may have obscured the more subtle fishy flavor. Oh, and both times, I used way more mushrooms than called for, because why wouldn't you want more mushrooms? Similarly, I used more onion, more lemon juice, more tabasco...I've noted these changes below.

One last tip: I didn't have the patience to soak cashews, so I simmered them while preparing the rest of the soup components. They resulted in one of the creamiest cashew creams/milks I've ever made, so if you're short on time, definitely do this.

Smoky Vegan "Clam" Chowder (version with rice shown)
(adapted from Tal Ronnen via la times)

Cashew cream
2 cups whole raw cashews, rinsed under cold water
Kombu broth:
2 pieces kombu seaweed (about 5 by 8 inches)
1 quart water
Smoky mushrooms:
1 heaping cup diced mushrooms (I used cremini, sliced not diced)
2 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
Chowder assembly:
1 TB canola oil
1 c diced white onion
1/2 c diced celery
1 cup peeled and diced baking potato (or 3/4 c cooked white rice)
2 cups kombu broth
cashew cream
smoky mushrooms
1 TB lemon juice, more to taste
1 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce, more to taste
2 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
1 tsp pepper, more to taste
sage (optional)
thyme (optional)


Cashew Cream:
1. Put the cashews in a pot and cover with water. Soak overnight, or simmer until soft.
2. Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place the cashews in a blender and add enough water to cover by an inch. Puree until completely smooth. If needed, pass the cashew puree through a fine strainer to remove any coarse bits; the final "cream" should have the smooth, thick consistency of heavy dairy cream. This makes about 3 cups cream (consistency will depend on the amount of water added while blending, and can vary from just over 2 cups to about 3 1/2 cups; thin as desired).

Kombu broth:
1. Combine the kombu and water in a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook 40 minutes. Strain. This makes about 4 cups kombu broth, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The broth will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 10 days.

Smoky mushrooms
1. Heat oil in a cast iron fry pan. Add mushrooms with a pinch of salt and saute until juicy (about 8 minutes).
2. Deglaze with tamari and liquid smoke (mixed together before adding). Cook another minute or so until liquid is absorbed/evaporated.

Chowder assembly:
1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and potato (if using rice, wait) and sweat, stirring frequently, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Add the broth, cashew cream and smoked mushrooms (and rice, if using). Reduce the heat, and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes to develop and marry the flavors. The cashew cream will thicken as it cooks, and you will need to add water from time to time to thin and adjust the consistency.
3. Season with the lemon juice, Tabasco, salt and pepper, and other seasonings as desired. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Serves about 4-5.

1 comment:

Devon said...

wow this looks amazing! time to make another batch!