Mushroom Soup with Chestnut and Cashew Cream - Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free

The perfect Thanksgiving Soup. Hearty & Healthy ~ loaded with Umami "yum" that's not too filling as a start to your holiday feast!

Below, my favorite Thanksgiving recipes

Forms of classic mushroom soups have been known in France and Italy for centuries. Due to the simplistic ingredients, and easy availability, it's most likely the origin is as old as the development of the hunter- gatherer society. Oh-so comforting as cool temperatures have arrived.

The characteristic smooth silkiness of this soup is derived from soaked raw cashews and the creamy texture of roasted chestnuts. Blended together and stirred into the finished soup - I like to save some and spoon on top of the soup as a lovely garnish. A wonderful addition to enrich the soup, without dairy.

The key to the flavor and color of the soup starts with soaking dried porcini mushrooms (I found "organic" at my health food store) which delivers a rich, deep-brown "broth". I like sauteeing two kinds of fresh mushrooms (many locally sourced) for a nice flavor contrast - shiitake and cremini. Flavoring in the pot is minimal so that the fresh mushroom aroma shines through, they are rosemary, leeks, garlic, chiles and a shot of sherry. Vegetable stock is the perfect base for the mix, vegan and vegetarians can induldge - as the mushrooms really do have that meaty texture and a umami punch. Umami is defined as "a fifth taste, that is pleasant and savory".

The reason I love to make my own soup from scratch... commercial brands, such as Campbell's condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (below, found on their website) have ingredients I would never, ever eat. Loaded with gmo's and MSG - makes you think of what's nourishing our bodies.


Convenience does not always do our health well!

This soup can be made a few days ahead, then reheated on Thanksgiving - or, make over the weekend and freeze for a few days. Doubling and tripling the recipe is easily done, just cook the mushrooms in batches for a golden, roasted flavor.

For a luxurious garnish, slice a few chantarelle mushrooms and saute them in some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt and top each bowl as it leaves the kitchen. These mushrooms have a fantastic, almost neon golden hue. They are said to be golden looking, golden tasting, and golden priced. Only a few are needed, so induldge!

Wishing all a festive and joyous Thanksgiving,


Ingredients for the soup

Sautéing the mushrooms

Adding the other flavoring ingredients

Cooking chestnuts and cashews for the "cream"

The soup, before adding the "cream"

A Zest For Life Thanksgiving Recipes: press each for recipe

Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey Basted with Fruit Juices and Marsala Gravy 

Chestnut Stuffing with Shiitake Mushrooms, Apricots and Fresh Herbs

Anadama Bread

Blue Corn Madeleines with Cheddar Cheese, Fresh Corn and Scallions

Mushroom Soup with Chestnut and Cashew Cream - Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free

Butternut Squash, Parsnip and Pear Soup for Thanksgiving

Chunky Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Fresh Pineapple

Natural Candied Yams with Apple Cider - Cinnamon Glaze

Fresh Spinach Sauteed with Roasted Garlic Cloves, Pine Nuts and Lemon

Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Spiced Candied Pecans

Roasted Squashes with Wild Rice, Dried Cherries and Pine Nuts in a Whole Roasted Sugar Pumpkin

Radicchio, Spinach and Kale Salad with Raspberry & Home Made Almond Oil Dressing

Raspberry and Almond Dressing with Home-Made Almond Oil

Sweet n' Spicy Two Nut and Seed Crunch

Caramelized Apple Deep Dish Cheesecake Pie

Pumpkin Cider Pie with Shortbread Cookie Crust

Deep Dish Apple and Pear "Pie" with Ginger- Molasses Shortbread Cut-Outs

And ... for your leftover Turkey, a great weekend recipe:
Turkey Enchiladas filled with Sweet Potatoes, Peppers, Onions finished with a Low Fat White Sauce, Salsa and Cheese


I must say once again Karen and her blog "A Zest for Life," have come to the rescue. There continue to be many holidays where I find myself in a jam and behind the 8-ball in my cooking preparation. As the quote goes "life is what happens when your busy doing other things," all of sudden it is 6 days before the big feast like Thanksgiving and my recipe selection is still in limbo. Fortunately, I needn't look any further than Karen Sheers blog to find all the mouth-watering recipes I need to impress my guests. Even though my guests have come before, I am driven to dazzle. One can rest assured, that EVERYTHING you decide to cook from Karen's blog will be beautiful, healthy, and delicious. Karen's passion for food is obvious in her prose. She educates and inspires her readers along the way. What more can you ask for in a food blog? When I search Karen's blog my passion for cooking returns and I remember why I have once again said yes to hosting a holiday. I love the easy-to-follow step-by step cooking instructions with the accompanying photos. Karen's method of showing the reader up-front, the ingredients, the process and the finished product is a recipe for success. Karen is also personally responsive if you need clarification or more information. Just send her an email and she will answer. And thats why we keep coming back for more. This Thanksgiving at our Thanksgiving table we will thank Karen Sheer for our exquisite, scrumptious, heavenly meal.