1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
2 cups vegetable broth
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
3⁄4 teaspoon salt substitute, more to taste
fresh black pepper
1 -2 nori, finely chopped (see note)
3 cups unsalted vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
chopped fresh parsley or chives (to garnish)
Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Sauté onion and carrots in the vegetable broth with a pinch of salt substitute, for about 10 minutes, until carrots are softened.
In the meantime, make 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 one to five minutes depending on your machine. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every now and again to make sure you get everything.
Back to the soup. Add mushrooms and celery. Cook briefly, for about 3 minutes, just until mushrooms are softened. You want them to keep their texture.
Add the potatoes, salt substitute, pepper, nori and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Be careful to keep a close eye so as not to overcook them or they will turn into mush.
Stir in the cashew cream mixture and gently heat, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, until nicely thickened. Add the tomato paste and lemon juice and taste for salt substitute and seasoning. Add a little extra water if it seems too thick.
Serve garnished with parsley or chives, if you like. A wedge of lemon looks pretty, too.
*How fishy do you like it? Nori is pretty mild as far as seaweeds go, but the potency varies depending on the brand and how fresh the nori is. Start with one sheet, then taste after everything is added at the end. If you think it needs more sea, you can still add another chopped up sheet. Just mix it in and let the flavor meld, off the heat, for about 10 minutes.
* To efficiently chop nori, it works to chiffonade it. That means roll up and slice! So tightly roll up your nori sheet like a cigar, and thinly slice. Then run your knife over the curled up bunches to get them into even smaller pieces.
* If you’d like it even chewier and you have money to spend on fungi, then go ahead and replace all of the white mushrooms with shiitake.
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