Vegan Tony Roma's Baked Potato Soup.

Two decades ago, I remember riding in the backseat of my grandparent's wood paneled station wagon. For we were heading to Tony Roma's, very likely with coupons in hand. Those early 90's laminated menus contained ribs, ribs, steak, ribs and some ribs. I don't think they'd yet gone shrimpin' with Bubba. Sweating at the brow, I let the server (who later joined B4-4) know I'd very much like the baked potato soup, please.

The soup came 'round  spilling over the edges in a negligible crock that definitely used to be white. While my heartily-mustached grandfather tackled his rack of ribs, my grandmother annihilated her club sandwich and french fried potatoes. I scarfed down what tasted like if a baked potato and a pint of cream were to go head-to-head in a cage match, with bacon bits as the weak-kneed referee.

Fast forward twenty years and all I want is some baked potato soup, hold the animals.

Ingredients I -- Cashew Cream
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews 
1 cup water

Ingredients II
3 cups potatoes, chopped, skin on
2 small yellow onions
6 cups water
Vegetable stock powder (I prefer Knorr)

Ingredients III
1/4 cup non dairy cheese (I prefer Daiya cheddar style shreds)
1 - 250ml container Belsoy soy creamer
2 tbsp vegan bacon bits
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt

Optional: 3 tbsp flour or cornstarch, dissolved into 1/4 cup hot water

First, make your cashew cream. There's a number of different methods including
- Soaking in cold water overnight
- Soaking in hot water for 2+ hours
- Boiling on medium for 20 minutes
I've had good luck so far with the third method. Once boiled, I give my cashews a rinse, throw them in my blender and add cold water -- enough to just cover the nuts. Blend for some time, then strain if there's any larger bits you'd prefer to do without. Set aside.

Next, prepare your vegetable stock, and bring it to a boil with your onions and potatoes. Break out the immersion blender and pulse about half the pot.

Finally, add in all of Ingredients III and your cashew cream whilst simmering. If the consistency is too thin, add the optional starch mixture, and bring to a boil so the starch cooks out and thickens the soup.

Top with some shredded Daiya, green onions, and bacon bits.

Serves 4-6.

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