Hello friends. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I must have been kidding myself to think that moving into a new apartment, working 9-5, preparing every meal from scratch at home, exercising regularly, and still wanting to relax/socialize/sleep 8 hours a night would leave plenty of time for regular blogging. I certainly can’t keep up the same pace I had going during the summer when I wasn’t working. In fact, this weekend I thought long and hard about whether or not I would continue at all now that I’m so busy, and this only being a hobby after all. But then that old adage about “working to live, not living to work” came to mind, and I don’t want my life to only be about survival. Having a creative outlet makes my free time amount to more than just collapsing on the couch and recovering from the work day. It makes it meaningful. So even though I may be just writing this for myself and a few friends, I will persevere.
My new schedule means that Sundays are now meal-prep days. I hate coming home at 6 (or later) and having to make food, especially because my digestive system doesn’t function well when I eat late meals. By devoting a few well organized hours on the weekend to making food, I can avoid cooking during the week almost entirely. Lately I’ve been doing all my chopping and spice mixing on Saturdays, and then the actual cooking on Sundays, so it doesn’t feel like I’ve spent a full day in the kitchen.
Soup is my favourite make-ahead meal, especially now that the weather has gotten so cold. I prefer to eat a bit lighter at dinnertime, so coming home to a hot bowl of soup with some avocado toast is just perfection. But speaking of lighter meals, am I the only one whose appetite has increased significantly over the last few weeks? Every summer I eat tons of raw meals and salads and assume that it will continue through the winter, as if the previous winter was just some strange lapse in sanity. But the minute it gets cold zucchini pasta for dinner suddenly just doesn’t cut it anymore. I start to crave heartier meals and, more importantly, warmer meals – and here, soup reigns supreme. Expect plenty more in the coming months!
I made this soup with Conor in mind – he loves filling, hearty soups (I prefer soups heavier on greens) and he loves loves LOVES potatoes – it’s the Irish in him, I think. The flavours are really comforting and mild, and the texture is so creamy and thick that you’d never know there isn’t actually any cream in there. I’ve tried making this with only almond milk as a substitute, but it lacked the rich fullness I associate with a traditional potato and leek soup. The cashew cream really makes all the difference. Since I prefer having something to chew on, I’ve left it only partially pureed, but feel free to puree until smooth if that’s your bag. I also threw in some asparagus to add the barest hint of colour, satisfy my need for greens, and increase the vitamin and mineral content. Leaving the potatoes unpeeled preserves the fibre and minerals in their skins, and using cashews in place of dairy cream adds a healthy dose of fat and protein, making this soup a satisfying one pot meal.
Creamy Potato and Leek Soup with Cashew Cream and Crispy Fried Sage
~ Gluten free, vegan, low sodium ~
For the soup
- 2 large leeks, sliced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound mini red potatoes, diced
- 8-10 spears asparagus, chopped into small pieces
- 7 cups no-sodium-added vegetable stock (I use these bouillon cubes)
- 1/4 tsp each of dried basil, oregano, marjoram, sage, rosemary, and tarragon
- freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt, to taste
- 1 tbsp vegan butter (optional)
- a handful of fresh sage leaves (optional)
- hot sauce (optional)
For the cashew cream
- 1.5 cups cashews, soaked overnight*
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, plus more for serving
- Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large pot. Add the leeks, onions, and garlic, and gently cook for 10-15 minutes, until soft and translucent. The longer you can cook the leeks without browning them, the sweeter they will taste.
Add the potatoes, asparagus, herbs, and vegetable stock*. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Meanwhile, drain your soaked cashews and toss them in a blender, along with the water, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Blend on high until completely smooth and set aside.
- A few minutes before the soup is finished simmering, heat a small pan over medium-high heat and add the vegan butter. Cook just until it begins to brown, then add the sage leaves and take off the heat. This step isn’t completely necessary, but adds a nice touch and looks great when serving.
- When the soup is finished, use an immersion blender to puree the soup about halfway between chunky and smooth. I prefer my soups with some texture, but of course feel free to puree completely.
- Pour in the cashew cream and adjust the seasoning.
- To serve, add a generous squeeze of lemon juice to each bowl, along with your favourite hot sauce (optional) and garnish with the fried sage.
- If you’re pressed for time or forgot to soak the cashews, you can bring some water to a boil in a small pot and then remove from the heat and throw the cashews in. If they soak for an hour or two they should soften up enough to puree well.
- If using bouillon cubes, you may find it easiest to just toss them in the blender with the cashew cream. I like to do this to ensure they are thoroughly incorporated into the soup.