Vegan Chowder with Wild Rice and Cashew Cream

adapted from Vegetarian Heartland cookbook by Shelly Westerhausen

Curl up with a bowl of this comforting, creamy, hearty, VEGAN chowder.

I was gifted the cookbook Vegetarian Heartland by Shelly Westerhausen a few holidays ago. People who know me know that cookbooks are ALWAYS an acceptable gift for any occasion. Shelly Westerhausen is from the midwest and describes seeking ways to re-create her favorite local staples with a vegan twist. Yes, it is possible to cook in a hearty, satisfying way and not utilize meat product! Her recipe for vegan chowder quickly became a staple in our house, and was frequently requested week after week. Since making Shelly’s original recipes, we’ve probably made the original and variations over ten times or more. It’s the perfect meal for a cold day, for a reheated quick lunch, for a shared bounty with friends and family. It’s adaptable, it’s dependable. You can make it on a Sunday night and keep eating it throughout the week.

VEGAN CHOWDER with wild rice and cashew cream

adapted from Vegetarian Heartland  

The lovely thing about this recipe is you can adapt it with different potatoes, veggies, grains, and herbs depending on what you feel (or what’s in your cupboard). We like it with sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, mushrooms, parsley, kale, wild rice, or barley! There isn’t a lot of spice added to this, but the vegetables and cashews sing well on their own. Feel free to get creative and add any spices that you think would jive well.

Cashew Cream:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cashews

Add cashews to a bowl of water and soak overnight, or for at least 3-4 hours. If you don’t have that kind of time (I often don’t), then you can pour boiling water over the cashews and soak for 15-30 minutes.

Add soaked cashews to a high-speed blender with 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth and creamy.

Chowder:
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 white or red onion chopped
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 4 medium yukon gold potatoes chopped into bite-size chunks (you can peel the potatoes, but why would you want to miss out on all that good fiber?)
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour (for a gluten free, just don’t add the flour – the soup won’t be as thick, but more like a cream soup once the cashew cream is added)
  • 4 cups broth
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup (dry) wild rice, prepared according to the package (cook before adding to chowder)
  • 2-3 cups kale (depending on your preference)
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions:

Follow directions above for prepping the cashew cream. You can leave the cashews soaking until you’re ready to add them to the chowder, blending them into a cream right before adding.

Prep the wild rice according to the package directions. We like to cook the rice in a rice cooker for easy, hands-off cooking while we’re focusing on the chowder.

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add your onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes, sautéing until the veggies begin to soften (10-15 minutes). Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper the veggies to taste.

Add the flour and mix until the veggies are coated and the flour turns a light brown color. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Stir intermittently. We find that the soup likes to thicken and get a little stuck to the bottom of the pot, so you want to loosen this up every so often.

After its done simmering, mix in the wild rice, kale, and parsley. Then add the cashew cream. Cook for about 5 minutes more as the soup thickens just a bit more. Adjust the salt and pepper levels to taste.

Serve in bowls and garnish with any left-over cashew cream and chopped parsley.

Will keep up to a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and reheats well.

Enjoy!

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