Happy Fall! The Autumnal equinox this weekend, along with the cooler nights we’ve been having, made me start thinking about soup, especially this rich and creamy vegan chowder. I grew up visiting my dad and grandparents in Seattle for several weeks every summer. Although it’s not New England, the Pacific Northwest is pretty serious about its seafood, including clam chowder, but I have to admit that I had completely forgotten the creamy, smokey delights of this wonderful soup until I made this recipe. One taste and I was instantly transported to a sunny Seattle wharf-side restaurant complete with salty sea air, screaming seagulls, and a ferry horn in the distance. What a treat!
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine, divided
1/4 pound oyster mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cups vegetable broth, divided
2 cups water
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, cut into large pieces
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, ground fine
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 teaspoon natural smoke flavor
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
1. In a skillet over medium-low heat, sauté 1 tablespoon margarine and oyster mushrooms for 7 minutes, then set aside.
2. In a blender, grind cashews to a fine powder, then add 1 cup vegetable broth. Blend until completely smooth.
3. In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, and 1 tablespoon margarine, onion, cauliflower, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add bay leaves, thyme, white pepper, remaining vegetable broth, water, cashew mixture, and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat and cook for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves.
4. Using either an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend until completely smooth. Add potatoes and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. Stir in the smoke flavor and the mushrooms. Serve hot, garnished with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of fresh parsley.
*This recipe calls for oyster mushrooms as a delicious alternative to sea creatures boiled alive. But, when I went looking for oyster mushrooms to buy, no stores in our little town had any. Luckily, I had some wild honey mushrooms dried at home from last fall’s harvest so I used those instead. They’re a darker color and have a stronger flavor than oysters, but they were still delicious.
As soon as we get some rain it will be the perfect time to hunt wild oyster mushrooms and then I’ll definitely have to make this recipe again!
The smoke flavor totally MAKES this soup, and it’s a perfect way to celebrate the turning of the seasons. Follow it up with a warmly spiced Mexican Chocolate vegan brownie or mug of rich hot cocoa for Autumnal dinner extraordinaire!