New England Clamless Chowder by Danielle Bussone

Whether or not you are a fan of clam chowder, if you love decadently creamy potatoes and are craving comfort food, this is a dish you will love. It doesn’t have the fishy taste of clams, but the shiitake mushrooms provide the color and chewiness of clams, and enhance the character of this dish as a potato stew. This is a perfect transition dish if you miss seafood.

Makes 7 cups

1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 hours or overnight (unnecessary if you have a high-powered blender)
2 Tbsp. white garbanzo bean miso (Master Miso brand is the most readily available)
1 tsp. tomato paste (optional)
2 cups diced yellow or white onion
4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, skins on
1 stalk celery
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup thin dried shiitake mushrooms, broken into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 to 1 tsp. thyme leaves

Preparation: 1 hour, plus soaking time
Drain cashews and discard liquid. In a small saucepan, cover shiitake mushrooms with an inch of water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and allow to soak for thirty minutes to an hour. Drain and reserve liquid. While the mushrooms are soaking, chop onions, celery, and bell peppers. Place in large skillet or sauce pan. Cut potatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes and rinse. Cover with water to prevent discoloration.

Drain potatoes and transfer to a medium saucepan with 1/4 inch water.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for ten minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. The cooking time will depend on how large you’ve made the cubes. Drain, reserving liquid. At the same time cook onions, celery and bell peppers until soft (about 10 min). Add drained mushrooms and heat through. Add potatoes.

Discard cashew soaking liquid and transfer the nuts, miso and optional tomato paste to a high speed blender. Add one cup of the reserved mushroom and potato liquid. Blend on high speed until creamy, adding water if you feel it is too thick (about 2 minutes). (If you are using a high-powered blender, just add the nuts, miso, tomato paste and liquid. You may need additional water to get the desired consistency.) Add the cashew cream to the potato mixture, folding in to incorporate. Add thyme and cook for two minutes, thinning to desired consistency with potato water, mushroom water or just plain water if you’ve exhausted your supply. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

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