The story of how we stumbled upon this soup is full of holes. I don't know when it was (many years ago), I don't know where it was (somewhere in the Florida Keys), and I don't know how it was that we came across the tiny food co-op that was selling it. All I remember is being astounded at the combination of cashews and celery. What crazy hippie came up with that idea? Whoever you are, I love you!
I consider this a "transitional" soup because it's hearty enough to serve all winter but so chock full of fresh celery that it's perfect in the springtime. I'd consider switching it up a bit between seasons. In the winter, add some cubed potatoes and slices of grilled sausage (vegan if you're vegan). In the spring, hold off on the potatoes and sausage just like the recipe below. It's surprising just how flavorful such a simple recipe can be.
Our version gets a flavor boost from nutritional yeast. As regular readers will know from my Province Pantry post, nutritional yeast is a vegetarian's secret weapon. It's usually sold in bulk at Whole Foods and food co-ops. If you can't find it local, it's inexpensive on Amazon. If you're not into the whole yeast thing, try substituting with a small dollop of veggie bouillon.
I like using white or yellow heirloom carrots in this recipe. They have a mild sweetness and pale color that doesn't overpower. The carrots, celery, and onion create a white broth that has a gorgeous flavor once seasoned with a generous grind of salt & pepper. The boiled cashews add just a hint of creaminess without needing any dairy products or thickeners.
In keeping with the simple spirit of this soup, it need not be served with anything more than a chunk of buttered bread. If you're feeling fancy, top with a sprinkling of fresh chopped herbs, chopped fresh celery leaves, or fried onions. For another variation, put the finished soup in a blender to make a smooth creamy bisque.
Tastes best eaten outside with friends wearing scarves on a chilly day.