by Debra on November 15, 2010

Musical pairing – Smooth by Santana

About a month ago, Shauna of Gluten Free Girl put out a call to see if anyone would be interested in putting together recipes for our Thanksgiving meals that would be gluten-free. Here is part of what she said:

‘As you know, Thanksgiving (in the US) is quickly approaching. As you might guess, this is a particularly anxious time for gluten-free folks, since the traditional meal is SO starchy and glutenous. Imagine what it might be like to show up at Thanksgiving and not feel welcomed at the table. You watch everyone else eat stuffing and pie and nibble on mashed potatoes and salad, hoping there wasn’t any cross-contamination in the cooking.’

And honestly, until I received that email, I hadn’t imagined what it would be like to be invited somewhere for a meal that I couldn’t eat.  I don’t have celiac disease but my sister was diagnosed a couple of years ago; when I started this blog, she wrote and asked if I was up to the challenge to find recipes she could make.  So I said yes to Shauna’s request immediately . . . and then I panicked . . . I’m not necessarily a baker, nor am I a recipe developer but I want to learn; however, there are quite a few expert bakers in this group and when I saw some of the recipes they would be submitting . . . (deep breath) I decided to play it safe and do soup.  But before I get to that . . .

I want to share a little bit about Shauna and Danny (a professional chef) and the work they’ve done on behalf of people who are gluten-intolerant.  Not only are they some of the most caring and generous people around, but when Shauna was diagnosed with celiac, she decided to make it her life’s mission to learn everything she could to create fabulous tasting gluten-free dishes; she didn’t settle for whatever was available on the store shelves but developed recipes that tasted as good or better than what she’d eaten her entire life.  And she’ll tell you she’s never eaten better.

Several bloggers are participating in this project and Shauna has posted all of our links on her site; please take time to head over and look at the fabulous Thanksgiving recipes that have been made by really great people, some who are gluten-intolerant themselves and others like me, who can eat gluten but want to support this project – it will knock your socks off!  Oh, and one more thing, Shauna and Danny have written a new cookbook which I’ve purchased.  And let me tell you, the recipes in this cookbook are unbelievable! Crackers, apple-rosemary muffins, pumpkin soup, warm rice salad – even a blue cheese cheesecake with a fig crust – oh my heavens – I want to make every recipe in the book! And they share their love story . . . happy sigh . . .

Now about the soup . . .

The secret ingredient is Cashew Cream which is used as a thickener and also gives the soup an extremely creamy texture – you’d swear it was full of cream!  Raw cashews are soaked overnight, rinsed, then blended before being added to the soup base.  The whole shebang is pureed for several minutes in a blender, drizzled with chive oil and garnished with a touch of granny smith apple.  This soup is nothing short of perfection, nirvana or a host of other adjectives I could use to describe just how satisfying it is . . . it’s one of the best soups I’ve ever had, it’s gluten-free, it’s also vegan and it’s nothing short of sublime.

SMITH BITES NOTES: While it looks like this might be time consuming it is not; you do need to plan ahead to soak the cashews overnight and once the cashew cream has been made, it can be stored for a couple of days before using, as can the Chive Oil.  The soup itself takes about an hour from start to finish and again, can be made a few days ahead; in fact, this year I’m testing to see if the soup can be frozen, then thawed blended and reheated.  I’m all about spending less time in the kitchen and more time with my guests!

More Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dishes