New England Glam Chowder
I just returned from a trip to New England where I touched base with old friends, enjoyed my family, and took in all the wonderful things that New England offers in the fall. One of the things that you think of in New England, especially the coast, is New England Clam Chowder. This recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book, Isa Does It, tastes just as good, and is definitely much healthier than traditional clam chowder. Using cashew cream instead of dairy cream and butter cuts out the cholesterol and saturated fat. The mushrooms offer a similar texture to the clams, and all of the vegetables are the same. It is snowing/raining here in Aspen today so it is the perfect time to make a hearty, creamy soup like this. Glam Chowder will go nicely with a mixed green salad, and maybe a glass of chardonnay enjoyed in front of a fire.
New England Glam Chowder
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil or water
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch thick half moons
- ¾ teaspoons salt, plus a pinch
- For the cashew cream: 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 4 ounces shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 3 ribs celery, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾ inch chunks
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 or 2 nori sheets, finely chopped- chiffonade . (roll it up and then slice it)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Chopped fresh leaf parsley
- Saltines, for garnish
- Lemon wedges for serving, optional
Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat and oil or water. Saute the onion and carrots with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes, until th carrots are soft.
Prepare the cashew cream: Drain the cashews and add them to the blender along with the vegetable broth and cornstarch. Blend like crazy, until smooth. This can take anywhere from 1-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every now and again to make sure you get everything.
Back to the soup. Add both kinds of mushrooms and the celery. Cook for about 3 minutes, just enough so that the mushrooms are softened. You don’t want them to get mushy.
Add the potatoes, remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, pepper, nori and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Be careful to keep a close eye on them so that they do not overcook and turn to mush.
Stir in the cashew cream and gently heat, uncovered for about 7 minutes until nicely thickened. Add the tomato paste and lemon juice and taste fro seasoning. Add a little extra water if it seems too thick. Serve garnished with parsley and a few saltine crackers. A wedge of lemon looks pretty too!
By Isa Chandra Moskowitz