Vegan Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup: Cashew Cream Replaces Dairy

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Call me a cashew cream convert. This vegan delight is an excellent alternative to dairy and I’ve tried it an loved it at many restaurants. But making it at home was a different story…

Top down view of two bowls of vegan cashew cream wild rice and mushroom soup with two slices of brown bread on a large maple cutting board.

I prepared multiple attempts at home and could never make it smooth enough. No matter how hard I tried, I always ended up with grainy cream sauces that were only fit to go in the trash.

I blamed it on my blender – I don’t have one a fancy high-speed Blendtec or Vitamix in my kitchen. So, I had pretty much written off perfecting a homemade version for good. Until I made this soup.

Oblique view of two earthenware bowls filled with a creamy vegan wild rice and mushroom soup. The bowls sit on a dish towel on a wooden cutting board.

My mother-in-law sent a recipe for mushroom soup to me awhile back and I had been waiting for a good time to make it. The soup called for a few ingredients that I wasn’t interested in using, and a bunch of steps that I didn’t want to do, so I made it my own.

Creamy vegan wild rice and mushroom soup in two dark brown clay bowls with slices of dark bread sitting on a maple wood serving tray.

One of the ingredients that soup called for was heavy cream. I knew that the creaminess was an essential part of the soup, and that I probably wouldn’t be able to do without it.

Though I’m not on a lactose-free diet by any means, I wasn’t really interested in buying a carton of high-calorie cream that I knew would just hang out in the fridge after I used what I needed to make this dish. It was time to get creative. So what did I do?

A sprig of fresh thyme on a wooden cutting board. Diffused background.

I recently bought Stephanie Burchiel’s book of soups made from farmers markets on California’s central coast (we have a lot of them around here, many of which are open year-round). If you’re interested, you can find this cookbook on Amazon. All of the soups in the book are vegan, and Burchiel uses cashew cream quite often.

Central Coast Farmers Market Soups Cookbook

Her soups are really good (I’ve tried them a couple times at the markets), so I thought she couldn’t be wrong about the cashew cream. I decided to give it one last go.

A single black earthenware bowl full of creamy wild rice and mushroom soup sitting on a folded linen napkin in the foreground. A second bowl is in the background.

Most recipes tell you to soak the nuts for 8 hours, but I didn’t plan this out that well in advance. So what I did was heat the water and then add the cashews, to try to give them a jump start.

A closeup of a bowl of creamy wild rice and mushroom soup with only about 3/4 of the bowl showing in the frame. Diffused background.

I really think this step was what made the recipe finally work for me – the nuts need some help to get them soft enough. It’s okay to let them soak longer, if you have time to start them in the morning or even the night before, but I’d definitely recommend soaking them in hot water. Drain, blend it all up, and you’re golden!

Top down view of a single bowl of creamy wild rice and mushroom soup sitting on a folded linen napkin. Two pieces of bread are sticking out of the top portion of the frame.

Whether you want to use the cashew cream to make this recipe vegan or not, this soup is phenomenal. It surpassed my expectations, and I’ll definitely be making it again. My husband AJ really liked it also – he ate about half of it in one sitting, I think.

The recipe is meant to serve six… or two hungry AJs. I’m not quite sure how he stays so skinny… maybe because I don’t feed him any heavy cream?

Print
Top down view of black earthenware bowl of cream wild rice and mushroom soup sitting on a unbleached natural linen napkin. A spoon sits to the right.

Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup (GF + Vegan)


  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings

Description

A creamy soup featuring chewy wild rice and mushrooms. With a cashew cream recipe that really works, and makes the soup taste so decadent and irresistible, but without any dairy!


Ingredients

For the Cashew Cream:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup water

For the Rice:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, whole, peeled
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup wild rice

For the Soup:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 16 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup butter, vegan or otherwise
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2/3 cup cooking sherry
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives, for garnish
  • sour cream, vegan or otherwise, for garnish

Instructions

For the Cashew Cream:

  1. Add the water to a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for a minute, until it is steaming. Pour the cashews into the hot water and set aside for 1 hour.
  2. Pour the cashews and their water into a blender and blend on high for a few minutes until very smooth. Add extra water 1 Tbsp at a time to get it to flow smoothly and quickly through the blender blades. Rub the mixture between your fingers; you should not feel any graininess. Set aside.

For the Rice:

  1. Combine the water, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, salt, and baking soda in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the rice. Return to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat until tender, about 45 minutes (see package directions for best timing estimate).
  2. When the rice is tender, drain through a colander into a bowl, to reserve the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the thyme, bay leaf, and garlic clove. Set the rice and cooking liquid aside.

For the Soup:

  1. While the rice cooks, chop your onions and mushrooms.
  2. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a large pot (a cast iron dutch oven is best) and add the onion, mushrooms, tomato paste, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid and it has evaporated some, and everything is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the sherry and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the majority of the liquid is gone.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, the reserved liquid from the rice, and the soy sauce and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to low, and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Mix well until no lumps remain. Add this to the soup and boil for 2 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Remove from the heat.
  5. Measure out 1/2 cup cashew cream into a 2-cup measuring cup or bowl. While stirring, slowly add 1 cup of the soup broth (this tempers the cream so it doesn’t curdle). Then stir it all back into the soup.
  6. Add the rice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with fresh chives and sour cream, if desired.

What about you? Have you tried cashew cream? How do you like it? Be sure to let us know in the comments below, and please give this recipe a rating as well!

Still hungry? Check here for more tasty soup and stew recipes, and here for more vegan recipes!


Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of bowls of vegan creamy wild rice and mushroom soup.

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 23rd, 2014. Last updated: November 12, 2018 at 10:41 am.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now being merged into Foodal).

Mmm, a bowlful of thick and creamy vegetarian wild rice and mushroom soup. Sounds tasty, right? But what if you can't handle dairy? If you're lactose-free, you don't have to miss out on this scrumptious meal. Sub in homemade vegan cashew cream and make it even better than the original. Get the recipe now on Foodal.

5 thoughts on “Vegan Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup: Cashew Cream Replaces Dairy”

    • Good question, Erika. Coconut cream can work as a substitute, but it will be significantly sweeter. Some vegan recipes substitute pine nuts for the cashews, or a steamed cauliflower puree. Maybe one of these will work for you? You can also try a soy or coconut creamer, but again, these are often sweetened and sometimes leave an aftertaste.

  1. Yes, soaking the cashews always makes the difference! Love how nuts can add creaminess to a recipe. And this looks so rich and delicious!

  2. The recipe looks delicious. I’ve been a vegan for 12 years, and this soup has a lot of good umami flavor going on. Will have to try when the weather cools off.
    Wondering where the cholesterol is coming from. Vegan ingredients are cholesterol free.

    • Hi Julie, thanks for your question. You are absolutely right! Looks like our nutrition facts on this recipe were calculated using the alternate non-vegan ingredients (regular butter and sour cream) rather than vegan versions. I’ll see what I can do to post an update to that right now.

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