Monday, June 13, 2011

The Soup Project: Spinach Soup with Cashew Cream and Morels

A search for soup ingredients

I was on the lookout for soup inspiration and I found an abundance of greens at the markets. When I saw the spinach at Nash's I knew this had to be the soup of the week. But I only got one bunch. Later after giving my recipe some thought, I knew I didn't have enough spinach for a soup. So on Sunday I went to Ballard market and stopped at Nash's booth to get more spinach.

News from Nash's Farm in Sequim

Kia was there and she mentioned that Nash's farm store is moving to the old Glendale Creamery Building down the street. I'd been to the old building once when I went on a Tilth Producers farm walk in 2008, and when I stayed for the seed and grain growing seminar in the afternoon it was held in the old Creamery.

This is Nash talking about seed and grain growing on his farm in 2008. I was between books then, and I was working on updating farmer profiles from my first book Local Vegetarian Cooking. While I was at the seed growing seminar, I overheard farm workers talking about how the creamery would one day be the new farm store.

My first book with Washington farmer profiles that included Nash Huber's farm.

When I saw Kia at the Ballard market, she said the new farm store opening was about a month away. She said that the space will host cooking classes, workshops and will have an expanded lending library. Then she said renovation for the store will be extensive and in order to comply with building codes, their budget now exceeds what they'd had earmarked for the project.

This is a picture of the old store in case you haven't seen it. Off to the left you can barely see that part of the store is a tent-like structure with a dirt floor. I love this store and have visited it often; they even sell my new book there, but as you can see the look reflects a bygone era. A new store will mean a lot to this vibrant food producing community and it will probably attract a lot more visitors.

Rather than putting the plans for the new store on the back burner again, Nash's farm crew is reaching out to the community and farm supporters for help. Anyone can become a sponsor for as low as $10. and when you donate, your name will be displayed on a big mural. The size of your name corresponds to the size of your donation. Check it out:

Nash's Farm Store Sponsor Categories

$10-99 Helpful Ant
$100-249 Butterfly
$250-499 Lady Bug
$500-999 Honey Bee

Farm Treasure
$1,000-2,499 Ruby-Red Beet
$2,500-4,999 24 Carrot Gold

Sustaining Sunbeam
This contribution feeds the farm store and your family. For every $1,000, you get $500 worth of veggies, fruits, and grains. For example:

$5,000 gets $2,500 worth of food over 5 years

Ants can move mountains, so if you have $10, this is a great place to put it. You can contact them by phone: 360-683-3950

or donate at the farm store:

Nash's Farm Store
4681 Sequim-Dungeness Way
Sequim, WA 98382

or at any of these locations and times:
  • Port Angeles market, Saturday
  • Sequim Open Aire market, Saturday
  • Port Townsend market, Saturday
  • Kingston market, Saturday
  • Olympic Medical Center, Port Angeles and Sequim, Tuesday afternoon
  • U District Market, Saturday
  • Ballard Market, Sunday
Check out Nash's website for more information.

Soup inspirations

The last creamy green soup in this project was this Nettle Soup, an inspiration from Jill Nussinow's new e-book and since I used coconut for that soup, I thought about everything else that might lend a creamy texture without adding dairy.

I surfed the net for recipes and checked out this soup and this soup that both featured potatoes and tofu (kind of boring if you ask me) and I found this one from 101 Cookbooks that had potatoes and zucchini (more intriguing) but none were exactly what I imagined. I considered almond milk and then I suddenly remembered cashew cream.

I also had a few mushrooms--three to be exact. I bought a few porcini mushrooms and these morels at Found and Foraged. They were pricy- $8.50 for just a few, but you can use button mushrooms from a store, too. I soaked the morels in water for a bit--bugs live in them you know, and they won't hurt you, but I don't want the bugs in my soup. Then I carefully cut them into tiny pieces and dry-fried them (in a frying pan with no oil) to sprinkle on as garnish after the soup is finished.

Also, be sure to wash the spinach well because like the morel mushrooms, spinach hides bits of sand and dirt. I fill the sink with cold water and swish the leaves. Then I rinse them again under running water. Grit in the soup is not part of the recipe.

Here is the recipe:

Spinach Soup with Cashew Cream
(Serves 4 to 6)

3/4 cup raw cashews
1 cup apple cider
2 spring onions, diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cloves garlic, diced or pressed
1 white waxy potato, peeled and diced
1 small sweet tart apple peeled, cored and diced
3 to 4 mushrooms, washed and cut into small pieces
2 bunches of spinach, ends removed and diced, leaves and stems left whole
4 to 5 cups water
Sea salt

1. Place cashews in apple cider and soak for one hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Puree until smooth and creamy. Remove from blender or food processor and set aside while you prepare the soup. No need to rinse the blender.

2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions and oil. Stir and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook but don't let the onions brown because this discolors the soup. While onions cook combine potato, apple and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes or until potatoes and apple are fork tender. Puree in the blender with onions and set aside. Still no need to rinse the blender.

3. Heat the same skillet over medium heat and dry fry mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the chopped stems and a little water. Stir and cook until stems become soft. Set aside.

4. Simmer the spinach in a medium-size pan with 3 cups water over medium-low heat until the leaves become soft. Don't overcook them. Puree in the blender with the potato-apple mixture until smooth and creamy. Return to pot, heat briefly. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cashew cream and add fresh lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle the mushrooms and cooked stems over the soup and serve.


Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) said...

What an inspired recipe. I'd never think to make cashew butter for soup. Brilliant! Thanks for stopping by my site and commenting on my red lentil soup. Hope you try it soon. It was really nice!

Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) said...

Responding to the comment you left on my site... I'm so pleased that you're considering making my soup! I do think quinoa would work fine instead of bulgur. I am not sure about French lentils, though. Red lentils are much more delicate. I'm sure the soup would "work" with French Lentils but it would be quite different. Also not as pretty! But if you do try it, please let me know!
PS Would you consider enabling your email address in your blogger profile? That's a trick I learned recently that makes it so much easier for others to respond to your comments. Just a thought! :)