Main Dishes, Vegan Twists on Old Favorites

Clamless Chowder

Prep time: 25 mins Cook time: 30 mins Total time: 55 mins
Serves: 4-6 (makes about 8.5 cups)

INGREDIENTS
Blender ingredients:
1 ounce raw, unsalted cashews (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup water

Soup pot ingredients:
½ medium yellow or white onion, chopped into small pieces (about 1 cup)
1 rib celery, chopped into small pieces (about ½ cup)
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch chunks (about 6 cups)
4 cups water
½ small head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried dill
2 bay leaves

Frying pan ingredients:
¼ pound king oyster or trumpet mushrooms, chopped into small pieces (about 1½ cups)
½ medium yellow or white onion, chopped into small pieces (about 1 cup)
1 rib celery, chopped into small pieces (about ½ cup)
1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Optional garnishes: chopped parsley and black pepper
INSTRUCTIONS
Place the ¼ cup cashews and ¼ cup water into a blender (small blenders work best for this small amount) and set aside while you prepare the rest of the soup.
For the soup pot ingredients, heat 1 tablespoon of water in a soup pot over medium-high heat. When the water starts to sputter, add the 1 cup onion and ½ cup celery, and cook while stirring for 3 to 5 minutes to soften, adding a little water, as needed.
Add the potatoes, water, cauliflower, granulated garlic, paprika, dill, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally.
While the soup pot ingredients are cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of water in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the water starts to sputter, add the mushrooms, 1 cup onion, and ½ cup celery, and cook while stirring for 3 to 5 minutes until soft, adding a little water, as needed. Add the thyme toward the end. Set the pan aside off heat.
Remove the bay leaves from the soup pot at the end of cooking, and blend the soup to your desired consistency with an immersion blender (or see Notes), leaving some small chunks.
Blend the cashews and water until very smooth, and stir into the soup pot along with the cooked vegetables from the frying pan, and simmer on low for 5 to 10 minutes covered before serving. Garnish with black pepper and/or chopped parsley.
NOTES
For added seafood flavor, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of kelp granules in step 6, or add “to taste” to individual bowls. (Kelp granules are usually found in the Asian cooking aisle of the grocery store.)

If you don’t have an immersion blender, carefully ladle most the soup into a blender or food processor, and blend briefly to your desired consistency before returning to the pot. Or you can use a handheld potato or bean masher right in the pot.

If you don’t eat nuts or are trying to avoid extra calories, simply omit the blended water and cashews or substitute with cannineli beans. The chowder will still be thick and creamy, just not as rich.

If you don’t have thyme, which is traditional for this dish, you may use finely chopped fresh rosemary.

Optional additions: 1 cup green peas and/or small-chopped carrots.

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