Welcome Back, Fall Time

From our contributing writer, Autumn.

I don’t even try to make it a secret, but I love this time of year. In fact, it may be the only time of the year that I truly love everything about it. There’s something almost magical about leaves visibly changing daily, big scarves, and fall comfort foods. Or maybe it’s just because my name is Autumn and therefore I have some weird territorial issues over the season. Either way, the cooler winds gave me enough reason to start looking for some good, autumnal soups. And I found a little beaut: cashew corn chowder with a cilantro cream.

How positively delightful does that sound? Well, it tastes even better. Cashews, corn, cilantro, a myriad of spices, and happiness. It’s gluten-free, vegan, and welcomes in the fall perfectly.

Cashews are a favorite of mine, but I recently learned they’re quite expensive, especially raw and unsalted (I would imagine that adding salt to something would make it more expensive, but whatever). So, buy in bulk – that is my best piece of advice. If you get your hands on some cashews, you’ll find a filling treat. Cashews are packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phyto-chemicals that help protect your body from common diseases. It fills you up and keeps you healthy. I made it through about half of my bowl before I realized that awful moment of, “Dang it, I’m full already.” They are also considered ‘heart-friendly’ nuts that can help lower bad cholesterol while increasing the good kind. Manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium all help regulate growth and development, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis. Considering their nutritional benefits, I think they’re worth the price tag.

When I had braces I wasn’t allowed to eat corn, and it was more or less traumatic. I loved corn, especially during the late summer/early fall days and I hated my braces more with each passing year. I wish my mother had known about this soup, because it’s packed with delicious corn. Corn is known as a starchy vegetable, full of carbohydrates and sugars, but, I mean, it is still a vegetable. So, let loose, if you will, and eat some corn instead of that overly-decorated sugar cookie. Besides, corn offers health-protective substances called beta-cryptoxanthin and lutein. It’s also a part of the carotenoid family which are cancer-fighting foods. Carotenoids produce disease-protecting agents and have been shown to help certain cancer situations. Corn, however, is one of the vegetables most likely to be ‘treated’ by GMOs, so I highly recommend buying organic, if you can.

The cilantro cream was exciting for me, because it’s a dairy-free cream, but still blends so smoothly into the chowder. Cilantro is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber, and contains many essential volatile oils such as borneol, cymene, phellandrene, and pinene. The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure, and iron is essential for red blood cell production. It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin K. All from those green leaves.

So, I give to you – most enthusiastically – the Cashew Corn Chowder with a Cilantro Cream recipe.

Cashew Corn Chowder Ingredients:

•1 Tbsp. coconut oil or ghee

•2 medium yellow onions

•6 cloves garlic (I used 4)

•2 tsp. sea salt

•2 tsp. turmeric

•1 tsp. cumin

•cayenne to taste

•3 ears fresh corn

•4 cups vegetable broth

•1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice

•½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (4 hours minimum)

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add turmeric, cumin and cayenne and cook for about a minute, until fragrant. Add onions and salt, and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic. If the bottom of the pot becomes dry, add a little broth instead of oil to moisten things up.

2. While the onions and garlic are cooking, husk the cobs of corn. Cut off the kernels by standing the corn on one end and slicing downwards. Add corn kernels to the pot and stir to coat with spices. Cook for 5 minutes then add the remaining broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the corn is bright yellow and sweet, about 5 minutes. During this time, make the cilantro cream (see recipe below)

3. Once the corn is cooked, remove pot from heat and transfer the soup to a blender, reserving a few tablespoons of the whole corn kernels for garnish. Add soaked and rinsed cashews. Blend on high until completely smooth. Add water to thin, if desired. Season to taste. Return soup to the pot to keep warm if necessary. Serve with cilantro cream, a drizzle of olive oil, a few kernels of corn and plenty of cracked black pepper.

Cilantro Cream Ingredients:

•½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (4 hours minimum)

•1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice

•1 cup cilantro (leaves only, loosely packed)

•½ cup water

•1 Tbsp. raw honey (or agave) (both available at Natural Options)

•1 tsp. sea salt

•pinch cayenne, if desired

•½ small clove garlic, if desired

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until completely smooth. Season to taste. Store leftovers in a sealed glass container.