Raw Sweet Corn and Cashew Chowder

Savory Recipes, Summer • 18 Jun 2009

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I’ve been feeling strange lately; inexplicably so. Nothing is wrong, per se, but I’m off.

And for once, I am at a loss for words to describe my condition (and I’m rarely at a loss for words!). Is it general malaise? Have a group of angry aliens snuck into my bedroom while I slumber and administered a probe? Has a Star Trek ear bug wormed its way into my system, shedding its exoskeleton in my stomach? Do I have a tapeworm? Is it simply the “jumping out of one’s own skin” syndrome?

I digress. I feel strange.

I need a quick cure and obviously a hard and fast dose of penicillin will not suffice. I’ve never tried any sort of master cleanse and I refuse. I do not care to buy packs of unmarked powders from a Yoda-style guru online and I refuse to drink that odd, unappealing and seemingly dangerous lemon juice/cayenne concoction. Anyhow, I’m not interested in starvation. But I do need to detox, whether my turmoil is physical or of the existential breed.

In preparation for our move to Brooklyn, I have been going through stacks of old food magazines and clipping inspiring recipes for my recipe book. I revisited the article “Simply Delicious Raw-Food Recipes” profiling raw-food enthusiast Ani Phyo who creates healthful and flavorful dishes using fresh, uncooked ingredients. She stays clear of a preachy, holier-than-thou stance on the subject. Her goal is to inspire others to “cook” and enjoy raw-foods recipes as well as make the lifestyle more accessible to the layman.

Upon reading Phyo’s recipes, I knew right away that eating raw would be the cure for my malaise. (And no, I’m not converting to a raw lifestyle! Who do you think we’re talking about here?!)

I decided to eat all raw, vegan foods for two days (and then continue eating as many fruits, vegetables and grains for the rest of the week). This means no cooking anything, no processed or cooked foods. All food consumed will be organic, uncooked, unprocessed and for me, vegan (though many raw foodists do eat honey and therefore are not considered vegan). My goal was to boost my energy and cleanse my system while opening the vortex of my mind to a totally different lifestyle.

I initially went into this experiment with skepticism. I had never had a raw foods meal that I fully enjoyed and although Phyo’s recipes appeared expertly crafted, I doubted their ability to satisfy my cravings while leaving me both satiated and spiritually content.

While I could never adhere to this lifestyle for a multitude of reasons (I believe cooking enhances flavor, kills germs and even enhances the nutritional value of a lot of foods), I was pleasantly surprised by Phyo’s recipes. Of the recipes on her website, we tried her corn and cashew chowder with cilantro and black pepper, the zucchini “pasta” was raw marinara, the fuzzy navel orange and pecan smoothie, the raw cacao “milkshake” and the apricot pudding. Everything was fresh and bursting with nuanced flavor.

Spring and summer are a particularly wonderful time to enjoy raw recipes as fresh produce reaches its peak and eating raw can definitely connect a person to the dynamic vitality of a fruit or vegetable.

Phyo’s chowder is a perfect early summer soup, taking advantage of easily accessible sweet yellow corn. The combination of corn and cashews seems so natural after tasting the soup. The sweetness of the corn plays so nicely off the earthiness of the nuts and when whirled together, you get a really creamy concoction. The recipe requires a hefty six tablespoons of olive oil so make sure to use a very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the flavor hits right up front.

Although we have a high speed blender, my soup was slightly grainy. I might suggest straining it through a China Cap if you have one handy or soaking the cashews in lukewarm water for 1-2 hours, yielding a more velvety texture.

The chowder literally took ten minutes to prepare, not including chucking my corn, which I did at the grocery store. I cannot recommend this soup enough. It is perfect for a light, healthy dinner or as part of a summer picnic in the park.

Raw Sweet Corn Chowder with Cashews
Adapted from Ani Phyo

3 1/4 cups fresh yellow sweet corn, shucked and kernels removed
2 cups water
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for up to 2 hours, drained
4-6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh cilantro, or to taste
Black pepper to taste

1. In a blender, combine 2 1/4 cups of the corn with the water, cashews, olive oil, garlic and salt and puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate if desired for a colder soup.

2. Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the remaining 1 cup of corn kernels, the cilantro, a sprinkle of pepper, and any other garnish of choice.

Yield: Makes 4 servings.

One Response

  1. Pingback: Zucchini Ribbons with Raw Tomato Marinara | Kate Sonders Food Writer

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