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Cream of Cashew Soup

1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp. peanut oil
2 cups unsalted natural cashews
1/4 cup shallots, chopped
2 14oz cans chicken broth
1/4 cup cream sherry
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup whipping cream

2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. Cognac
chopped chives, for garnish

Melt butter and oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat.
Add cashews and shallots.  Cook until shallots are golden brown,
stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.  Add broth and sherry.
Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Add half and half and cream.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until cashews are tender, about
20 minutes.  Working in batches, puree soup in blender until very
smooth.  Strain soup into large saucepan, discarding solids. 
Whisk 2 tablespoons water and 1 tsp. cornstarch in a small bowl
to blend.  Bring soup to boil.  Whisk cornstarch mixture into soup,
stirring until soup thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.  Stir in Cognac.
Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with chopped
chives to serve.

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