Heat the olive oil on medium high in a large soup pot.
Add the carrots, onion and garlic. Sauté, reducing heat as needed until the onion is translucent. About 2-3 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for about 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir it into the veggies.
Next add the thyme, bay leaves and brandy or wine to the pot. Stir to combine everything and simmer until the alcohol has mostly been absorbed. 4-5 minutes.
Then, add the flour and stir into the pot. It should make everything look like a thick paste.
Now, whisk the vegetable broth into the pot and make sure everything is fully incorporated and there are no lumps of flour.
Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to about medium low so it is at a soft simmer and then add the corn kernels.
Simmer for about 15 minutes.
While the chowder simmers, make the croutons and the cashew cream.
First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees(F).
Cut the crusty bread into small pieces, place each piece on a sheet pan and sprinkle with a little bit of the vegan cheese. Then bake for 5-7 minutes or until crunchy and brown and the cheese has melted as much as it can. Set aside.
Make the cashew cream. Drain the cashews you soaked and add them to a blender. Add the non-dairy milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend on high until completely smooth. Remove from the blender and set aside, you will need to use the blender again.
After the chowder has simmered for 15 minutes, remove the bay leaves and thyme. Then add about half of the chowder to the blender. Make sure to vent the top and cover the hole with a towel, to make sure it doesn't explode since the chowder is hot. Blend until smooth.
Add the blended chowder back to the pot and then add in the cashew cream you made. Stir to combine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning, you will probably need more salt and pepper.
Serve with the cheesy croutons you made on top!