Grab A Handful Of Cashews For Creamy Soup Without The Dairy

If you're a fan of creamy soups but not a fan of dairy, you may have found that plant-based milks just don't seem to offer the same luscious texture that a splash of heavy cream adds to your favorite puréed pottage. Dairy milk offers up a mouthfeel and consistency that is hard to emulate with your run-of-the-mill alternative milk. Some come close, but typically no cigar is to be found.

One of the best ways to add some heft and lusciousness to your creamy soups is not with a liquid at all. Enter the cashew. Cashews lend consistency and density without a strong flavor, making them a foolproof addition to thicken up your soup.

There are two ways to incorporate cashews into your recipe: raw and soaked. If you have a high-powered blending appliance, you can just add in a handful when you're blasting your cooked soup ingredients. If you're using an immersion blender or a more traditionally-powered blender, you can soak that handful of nuts in water overnight in the fridge. If you forgot that step and want your soup ready ASAP, you give them a faster hot water bath to soften them before they hit the blades.

How cashews thicken soup better than other nuts

The reason cashews make for a good dairy-free thickening agent is the same as why they are often used to make vegan cheese, cashew cream, and sauces. Cashews are high in fat and have a dry texture, making them fit for adding unctuous bulk without watering down and diluting your soup. When they are broken down by the blades of a blender, that fat is released, adding a velvety quality to the soup. When you grind cashews up, their dryness sops up some of the surrounding liquid, making a thicker soup. Cashews are also relatively mild in taste compared to other nuts so won't affect the flavor profile of your soup.

One thing to keep in mind: It's best to use raw, unsalted cashews. If you toss in roasted or salted, you will also be incorporating more seasoning and fat from the oil they were roasted in, plus that toasty flavor. If that's all you have on hand, be sure to adjust sodium and flavor levels accordingly.