Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Russian Potato Soup in the U.P.

Yes, I'm one of those crazy dog owners who believes that my dog has feelings. And opinions. For example, he also loves his Power Hour. And why wouldn't he? He has 100 trillion little cells that he's trying to keep happy, too. Now, usually he's a good dog. But given his lack of verbal communication skills, he has to get across his opinions and ideas in the only way he knows how. Usually this is in the form of chewed up shoes or swallowed underwear (only to be spewed up later, poltergeist style). Today, however, I came home to an entirely new situation. Garbage. All. Over. The. Floor. Bad dog? Yes. He got a firm talking to, but the message was coming across loud and clear. My dog needs to run. Often and far. When not given the opportunity, there is anarchy in my home. Garbage on the floor, chewed up shoes, puked up underwear? Point taken. We went on a hike. (Cesar Milan's philosophy of "exercise, discipline, affection" translates to "affection, affection, exercise" in our house.... which probably explains why I came home to garbage spewed all over the floor)

Meet my hiking partner:

We live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, except for one thing.... we're a few weeks behind the rest of the country when it comes to spring. Its not so bad on days like today, when the sun is shining, and you can look out a window and pretend its warm enough to wear a t-shirt outside, or play Frisbee in the park. In reality, we're holding steady at barely 40 degrees. And don't let the sunshine fool you, we're not in the clear yet. It's not uncommon to have an Easter blizzard. Consequently, there is still snow on the ground. Not enough to have to shovel, or wear boots, but snow is snow, and any amount in spring is too much.

Wetmore Landing
Kiva and I went for a hike along the shores of Heaven Lake Superior. The trail was mostly crunchy, icy snow (read: pure ice) most of the way. At one point, a slip turned into a near catastrophe as I nearly slid down a ravine into the lake. A fortunately placed tree root and some quick footwork saved my fall... my hiking partner didn't even noticed. While I was able to save my own life, I had to sacrifice the lens cap to my camera (anyone have a spare Canon lens cap?). Not to worry, we made it home safely. Just in time to be starving.

As a soup lover, the long spring is just an excuse to extend "soup season" (actually, any reason is a good enough reason to extend 'soup season'..... year round!). When I started dabbling with a gluten free/dairy free/refined sugar free diet about two years ago, I thought I would never be able to spend a meal with my favorites ever again (namely pizza: another post, another time). However, sticking with my philosophy that I don't have to give up anything to have everything, I knew this couldn't be true. I was right. 

Say hello to my little friends:

That's right. The cashew

Health benefits of Cashew nuts

  • Cashews are packed with soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and packed with numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals; that help to protect against diseases and cancers.
  • Cashews are rich in energy and nutrients. They are rich in “heart friendly” monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acids.  Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
  • Cashew nuts are very rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Eat just a handful of cashew nuts every day to avoid minerals deficiencies. Selenium is an important micro-nutrient which functions as co-factor for antioxidant enzymes such as Glutathione peroxidases, one of the most powerful antioxidant in the body. Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as co-factors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis.
  • Cashews are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them from external sources to replenish and essential for metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates in the body.
  • The nuts are also containing good amount of Zea-xanthin, an important flavonoid antioxidant, which selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes. It is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions, help prevent age related macular degeneration.

The little miracle workers. I use cashews for more than God ever intended: milk, ice cream, whipped cream, salad dressing.... heck, you can make yogurt out of the little guys! Most importantly though- soup. Russian Potato Soup was one of my favorites growing up, and I'm not even Russian (to be honest, I'm not sure the soup is Russian either). It took me a little while, a little experimenting, but creamy soup is BACK! And better than ever! I assure you, dairy-eaters can't even tell the difference. Vegan. Delicious. Amazing. So, without further ado...... I give you my version of Russian Potato Soup.

Russian Potato Soup 
2-4 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee
2 organic leeks, chopped
2 large organic carrots, chopped
 6 cups veggie broth
2 tsp dried dill (or 4 tsp fresh)
1 bay leaf
7 cups organic potatoes, diced
1 pound organic mushrooms (4 cups), chopped
1/2 cup cashew pieces
1/4 teaspoon arrowroot powder (or corn starch)
Salt and Pepper, to taste.

Directions: In large kettle saute leeks and carrots in 2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee, 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in 4 cups broth (or enough to cover all the veggies, add more as necessary), dill, salt, and pepper, bay leaf, and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes (until the potatoes are cooked). Remove bay leaf. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute mushrooms in 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee until golden. Add to soup. Put cashew, arrowroot powder or cornstarch (or gf flour) into Vitamix (or blender) with remainder of broth. Blend on high (if you need more liquid, scoop some out of the soup pot). Add cashew cream to soup. Cook until cashew cream is fully absorbed into soup. Enjoy! 

This recipe included in Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Real Food Weekly.


  1. That looks so incredibly delicious. And thank you for posting a link to your blog! I will have to peruse in the next few days!

  2. Thanks Heather! Yes, its yummy good! A friend of mine is due to have a baby any day now. I promised I would bring her food, and this is what she requested! Yum!