New England Glam Chowder

Serves 6 to 8 · Total time: 35 minutes* · Active time: 15 minutes
(*not including soaking time for cashews)

This is for all you fishheads out there. A mix of mushrooms stand in for the clams to create a super satisfying chewiness, while some chopped up nori gives this chowder a true taste of the sea. It’s thick and creamy and loaded with the finer things, like potatoes and carrots. Crumble some saltines over the top and you’ll be able to hear the Atlantic Ocean lapping at your feet. For authenticity, make sure to serve this while talking like a character from a Stephen King movie.

Recipe notes

* 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 more chewy and you have a million dollars to spend on fungi, then go ahead and replace all of the white mushrooms with shiitake.

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 teaspoons organic cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 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, more to taste
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1 to 2 nori sheets, finely chopped (see note)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Optional toppings:

  • Fresh chopped parsley or chives for garnish
  • Saltines for crushing over the top

Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Sauté onion and carrots in the olive oil with a pinch of salt, for about 10 minutes, until carrots are softened.

In the meantime, we’ll 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.

Photo by Vanessa Rees from Isa Does It

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, 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 and seasoning. Add a little extra water if it seems too thick. Serve garnished with parsley or chives, if you like, and a few saltine crackers. A wedge of lemon looks pretty, too.

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