Mushroom and Cashew Cream Soup

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been craving soups. And not just any soup; not just “oh, I’ll throw together a few things and make a light, springlike soup.” Nope, I’m craving warm, thick, hearty, winter soup. But the weather is in the 70s, so I can’t go too overboard; to me, the winter-spring hybrid is a “cream of” soup.

And, despite the title, that’s just what this is: based on taste and consistency, you’d swear it was cream of mushroom soup. But this (vegan!) version is healthier; besides being lower in bad fat (and higher in good fat), the cashew cream also adds protein.

If you’ve never had cashew cream before, it’s a vegan cream substitute that can be used in just about any dish that requires cream. (One of my favorite items on Blossom vegan restaurant’s menu is their ravioli with cashew cream, a dish that one of my meat-eating friends couldn’t believe was vegan.) Because raw cashews have no taste, their “cream” likewise is flavor-neutral, like actual cream. And if you’ve never made cashew cream, it’s a simple process. I’ve heard from some people who don’t soak their cashews ahead of time, and they swear it comes out ok, but I still prefer to soak them–I think it just makes them softer and a little easier to blend.

I love this soup: the crimini mushrooms are meaty, and their flavor is rounded off with the roasted garlic and cashew cream. It satisfied all my winter soup cravings, but I didn’t feel odd eating it in May. The perfect hybrid cold weather-warm weather soup.

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