This is one of those cases where pictures just cannot do justice to the flavors. This soup tastes exactly like a fresh Italian garden. All the wonderful flavors of tomato and basil together (think bruschetta) layered into a (cashew) cream-based soup, with just a hint of smokiness from roasting the tomatoes. It’s one of the most unique and fresh and flavorful soups I’ve ever tasted.
The steps for this recipe seem long, but they’re actually quite simple. Just a few whole ingredients and 35 minutes (including cooking time) is all it takes to create the most creamy and decadent soup. Campbell’s should be so scared right now.
Makes 4-6 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium white onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 small pepper (jalapeño, habanero)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2/3 cup cashews
- 10 roma tomatoes
- 2 cups fresh basil
- Sea salt & Black pepper
This kind of soup thrives on heavy cream and butter… but we’re not doing that. Instead, we’ll make a delicious cashew cream, similar to the cashew milk recipe I posted last year. To do this, soak 2/3 cup of cashews in warm water for at least 2 hours. Then, combine them with 2 cups of water in a high-powered blender until completely smooth. Voila! Cashew cream. Preferably, prep this ahead of time and set aside until ready to make the soup.
Roasting the tomatoes in the broiler adds a beautiful slightly smokey taste to the final soup. To make this happen, slice the tomatoes in half and add them to a baking sheet on your oven’s top rack. Turn the broiler on high and allow the skins to char slightly (8-10 minutes). Turn the pan regularly to ensure even cooking. When thoroughly blackened, remove from the oven and set aside for now.
Meanwhile, heat a large stockpot with a drizzle of olive oil. Chop a white onion, 4 cloves of garlic, and one small chili (jalapeño, Anaheim, habanero, or whatever) and add all these ingredients into the soup with a splash of water and a teaspoon of dried thyme.
Allow these ingredients to soften for 5 minutes, then add about 2 full cups of basil leaves into the pot. How much basil is 2 cups? I simply took a 1 cup measure, and packed it with basil leaves, then repeated for another cup. It doesn’t have to be super exact. Allow this to reduce for several minutes.
Next, add 4 cups of vegetable broth and 2 cups of that amazing cashew cream (reserving a few tablespoons for garnish). Also, now is the time to throw in those halved tomatoes along with a few pinches of salt and pepper. The light beige, red, and green colors will be almost as beautiful as the aromas filling your kitchen:
With big leaves of basil and halves of tomatoes, this soup needs to be blended. If you have an immersion (stick) blender, you can puree the soup right in the pot. Otherwise, pour the soup into a blender and blend on low until you reach the desired consistency. I prefer to make this soup *slightly* chunky with a little texture, but you can also blend until completely smooth.
To serve, ladle into bowls and use a spoon to drizzle the reserved cashew cream in a circular pattern over top. Garnish with a small sprig of basil.
Garlic Toast: This pairs perfectly with crusty slices of french bread rubbed with garlic. To prepare, slice the loaf at an angle, rub with a few drops of olive oil and add to a stovetop griddle until crispy. Then, simply take one fresh clove of garlic and scrape it along the surface for the most deliciously simple garlic bread.