Brazil Nut Chowder Two Ways

brazil-nut-chowder.jpt

I am once again bringing you a soup because even though it's feeling like spring around here, it's still nice to get cozy with a really good soup.  And this, my friends, is one cozy-loving soup.  Not only that, it has no added salt. no oil, and, once the simple ingredients are chopped and prepared, it's done in about 20 minutes.  Plant-based whole food and so delicious!

Brazil Nut Milk

It all started while I was experimenting with a new nut milk:  brazil nut.  I'd heard of the milk's silky, rich yumminess and was eager to give it a go.  I was a bit surprised by the flavor.  Cashew, almond, pistachio, hazelnut - each are so delicious and pair with sweets really well.  This brazil nut concoction was in another camp.  It was clear that the kids were not going to go for this stuff in their smoothies or poured over their granola.  Rich, silky, and delicious (in its own way) yes, but this seemed more on the savory side.  

I decided to try creating a creamy soup with it.  For years I watched longingly as others ate New England chowders and bisques, knowing my body wouldn't tolerate the cow's milk that made that rich creamy loveliness.   What if I could make a chowder that I could actually eat?!  Not a clam chowder, but one of those yummy potato corn chowders...could it be?  

First, I made the milk.  So easy.  Soak the nuts and blend with water.  No straining necessary.

Beautiful brazil nut milk.

Beautiful brazil nut milk.

Then, I gathered up ingredients that sounded like they'd work well for this chowder idea.

Mise en place for Brazil Nut Chowder.

Mise en place for Brazil Nut Chowder.

Berbere

Normally, I have a bit of a trial and error period, but somehow this just worked right out of the gate.  In fact, my family and I can't get enough of it!  It's got lots of flavor depth, which I believe comes primarily from the brazil nut milk (hence the name), but also a spice mix I used for the very first time in this recipe:  berbere.  Yes, you read that right, berbere.  It's an African spice blend with layers of brilliant flavors, and I really hope you can find it - probably in the nearest store with a spice bulk section.  That's where I got mine.  It's a mix of fenugreek, coriander, cardamom, allspice, cloves, onion, paprika, ginger, nutmeg, chiles - a wide variety of spices that make something amazing when they come together.

The Water Drop Test

To make this recipe oil free, do the water drop test when heating the pan.  For a description, see my post on Potato Leek Soup.

Two Ways

Knowing that my youngest would be trying this soup too, I wanted to blend it for him.  I also thought the rest of us might enjoy it that way, too, but knew I'd want a portion unblended.  I like to experience flavors separately.  So I made a big batch and pureed half of it.  

Here's the original finished product:

Brazil Nut Chowder garnished with scallions, tomatillo, and smoked paprika.

Brazil Nut Chowder garnished with scallions, tomatillo, and smoked paprika.

You guys.  This is my favorite soup yet.  You have to try it!

Dinner

I am trying to keep dinners light these days, so we just had the soup without sides - this bowl of goodness was enough.  Plus, time was an issue.  The family was starting to hover and needed to get on to homework and dog-cuddling.  I had a light, quick, and refreshing tropical fruit dessert idea to go with, since my store now had the ingredients:  Papaya with strawberries!  

Beautiful papaya!

Beautiful papaya!

Strawberry papaya boat.  The papaya's flavor comes alive when lime is squeezed over it.

Strawberry papaya boat.  The papaya's flavor comes alive when lime is squeezed over it.

Brazil Nut Chowder, served with a strawberry papaya boat.

Brazil Nut Chowder, served with a strawberry papaya boat.

Here is the blended version.

Blended Brazil Nut Chowder.

Blended Brazil Nut Chowder.

Kid Friendly

I have to say, it's so good this way, too.  The rich, creamy texture is so wonderful it's hard to stop eating it.  My youngest thought it was pretty good - high praise from him!  After giving it a try, he determined he's not wild about papaya (yet), so he had a blueberry mango smoothie (with spinach, of course).  For his texture- and flavor-sensitive tongue, pureeing the soup makes all the difference.

Brazil Nut Chowder blended for the kids, served with a blueberry mango smoothie.

Brazil Nut Chowder blended for the kids, served with a blueberry mango smoothie.

Brazil Nut Chowder Recipe

(Click title above for printable version.)

Yield:  About 8 servings