Saturday, March 12, 2011

Smoky Tomato Bisque with Arugula and Cashew Cream

Featured Ingredients: Tomatoes and Vegetable Broth

As winter draws to a close, and what a winter it was, the downside is those cold days that beg for comfort food, will soon be behind us... at least for a while.  In honor of the passing of winter, I figured I would throw in one more soup entry as a last hurrah.

This is a nice rich tomato bisque that is thickened with cashew cream.  For you lactose intolerant folks and vegetarians, this concept may very familiar to you.  I was actually quite intrigued.  The inspiration for this recipe was in an heirloom seeds brochure.  The method and ingredients weren't yielding my desired end result.  The mixture ended up being a creamy but gritty tomato mixture, not optimal for a soup.  

My method is modified so that you separately create the cashew cream to incorporate later in the recipe. This way you can strain out any pulverized bits of nuts and finish with a smoother end result.

Note: You don't have to worry about perfectly chopping the onion or garlic as the final mixture will be pureed.

Smoky Tomato Bisque with Arugula and Cashew Cream

1/2 cup raw cashews (must be raw)
1/2 cup hot water
Olive oil as needed
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1 28 oz. can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can Vegetable Stock
2 tsps salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder (Add more if you like more heat. This provides a subtle burn on your throat)
1 cup chopped arugula
2 tbsps chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup water or more to thin

1. Make the cashew cream.  Heat water to boiling.  Put nuts in a heat proof bowl or pyrex measuring cup.  Pour hot water over cashews (there should be enough water to submerge the nuts).  Let this soak for at least a 1/2 hour. The raw nuts absorb the water and turn this:

Into This.

Pulverize the nuts and water in a high speed blender. If your cream is too thick, thin it out with some water. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan and saute onion until translucent and slightly golden.  Add garlic and saute a couple of minutes until aromatic.  Add tomatoes, vegetable stock, salt, pepper, and chipotle chili powder.  Bring to boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Bisque Pre-Cashew Cream

3. Stir in cashew cream.  Reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

4. Let cool and puree soup in batches. Or use an immersion blender.

5. Stir in arugula and basil.  Add remaining 1/3 cup water or more if you would like a thinner soup and heat through.

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Smoky Tomato Bisque with Arugula and Cashew Cream
This bisque actually thickens as it sits and becomes a wonderful sauce.  Serve it the next day over penne pasta with grated smoked gouda, for a quick dinner.

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