Carrot, cashew-nut and a hint of sage… and you have a wholesome soup

Cashew-nuts are seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree, which is native to the coastal areas of north eastern Brazil. Cashews, known scientifically as Anacardium occidentale, belong to the same family as the mango and the pistachio nut.

You have probably noticed that cashews in the shell are not available in stores. This is because the nuts are always sold pre-shelled since the interior of their shells contains a caustic resin, known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before they are fit for consumption. This caustic resin is used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides.

Whether purchasing cashews in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that the nuts are not shrivelled. If it is possible to smell the cashews, do so in order to ensure they are not rancid.

Due to their high content of oleic acid, cashews are more stable than most other nuts but should still be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about six months, or in the freezer, where they will keep for about a year. Cashew butter should always be refrigerated once it is opened.

Cashews are a good source of monounsaturated fats, copper, magnesium and phosphorus. Everyone knows calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is also vital for healthy bones. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones. Some helps in giving the bones their physical structure, while the rest is found on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to draw upon as needed. Magnesium, by balancing calcium, helps regulate nerve and muscle tone.

Now, for a recipe.

Carrot, Cashew & Sage Soup

Ingredients

Olive oil: 30 ml

Onion, chopped: 25 gm

Garlic, crushed: 1 clove

Sage, fresh or dried: 2 tsp

Carrots, chopped: 450 gm

Potato, chopped: 1 large

Vegetable stock: 900 ml

Cashew nuts, chopped: 75 gm

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method: Heat the oil, add the onion and sauté gently; then add the garlic, sage, carrots, potato and continue cooking for a few minutes until the carrot softens. Add the stock and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in the cashew-nuts, then season the soup. Allow it to cool slightly before puréeing it in a food processor or blender.

Chef de Partie

Taj Connemara