This is an elegant soup, perfect for a first course when you want to show off without working too hard. Or go for a great big bowl full and call it dinner, because a little taste just might not be enough.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 20 minutes or longer, then drained and rinsed
1 pound mushrooms, coarsely chopped (I used baby portabellas and button mushrooms)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T herbs de provence
4 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
1/2 cup vodka or white wine
1/4 cup tamari
salt and pepper to taste
If you like some bits of mushrooms in your creamy soup, set aside a cup or so of the chopped mushrooms, and chop them finer, to add in after the blending step.
In a large soup pot, steam-fry the mushrooms, onion, garlic, and herbs in a few tablespoons of water, over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add a little more water if things start to stick.
Add the cashews, broth, vodka, and tamari. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Carefully ladle the soup into a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Do this in 3 or 4 small batches.
Return the blended soup to the stove, over low heat, and thin with water, broth, or nut milk if necessary.
Add the finely chopped mushrooms if you've set them aside, and heat for a few more minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
A note about blenders: Blending hot liquids is a little bit tricky. Be careful. Always place a dish towel over the lid of the blender, and hold it on while you blend. I have a regular old blender that's on it's last legs. I had to buy a new base cap for it, but it doesn't fit right. As I was attempting to blend this soup, the cap came loose and I had a hot mushroom mess all over the counter. In search of Divine Intervention, I said, Hey God, I really think it's time I had a Vitamix, don't you? The immediate response was, Sure, it's on it's way... but in the meantime, why don't you get an immersion blender?
Well, of course! I ordered one from Amazon for around $30 (rather than the $500 or so for a Vitamix), which I'll tell you all about once I've tried it out. If you have one, you're way ahead of me, and I imagine you've already thought to use it to blend this soup right in the pot. If not, take a tip from God and save yourself a lot of trouble and mess.