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Chestnut Soup

Tuffy P found a recipe for chestnut soup and suggested we have it tonight for dinner. I’ve never made chestnut soup before, but that didn’t stop me from more or less ignoring the recipe and making it up as I went along (my usual approach). Here’s how I did it.

The recipe suggested that if I cut two slits in an X shape in each chestnut then put them in a pot with cold water, then brought the water to a boil, the shells and skins would peel off no problem. That plan didn’t work very well at all. Maybe if I kept them in the boiling water a little longer it would have been more successful. Alternatively, maybe if I roasted the chestnuts for a while, I would be able to get them prepped easier. Suffice it to say that it was a time consuming task to get the chestnuts cleaned up, but I got the job done.

OK let’s see, what other prep did I do? I had some dried Italian porcini so I dropped a small handful into a bowl of water to reconstitute. Then I chopped a red onion, a big carrot, some garlic, a zucchini and quite a few cremini mushrooms. I poured a little really good olive oil into a heavy bottom pot and heated it up. The rest is easy….

I added the onions to the pot first, added a little salt, and after a minute added the garlic and then the carrots, and after another couple minutes, the chestnuts and the rest of the veggies. I had planned to add some fennel seeds, but I couldn’t find them in the pantry so instead, I used a little dried basil, and also a tiny amount of dried hot chile flakes. I let it all cook together for a few more minutes, then added about 1.5 litres of stock. By this time, the porcinis were soft so I tossed them in too. Then I bound together some sprigs of thyme with kitchen twine and tossed it in, put the lid on and let it simmer.  I cooked it until the carrots were done, then used an immersion blender to puree the whole business.

We served the soup with some fresh chives chopped in and some insanely fresh pumpernickel we bought this afternoon. We added some fresh ground pepper at the table. This soup is astonishingly good.

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Chestnut Soup (Liquid Gold) « LauraLovingLife

  2. Salvelinas Fontinalis

    The jury seems to be out on the cooking with olive oil thing. Taste tests done with olive oil tasting people would indicate that once cooked they couldnt tell olive oil from canola oil or any other oil for that matter. That seems to happen in quite a lot of taste tests of quite a lot of products and quite a lot of expert tasters. The real issue for me though is that olive oil has a low smoke point and that might make it dangerous in terms of containing cancer causing agents. Here is an interesting article that discusses both points
    http://www.blisstree.com/2010/12/17/eat/cooking-with-olive-oil-may-cause-cancer/
    You can find lots of research that supports the dont cook with olive oil view and you can find lotsa people who say bah just dont get it too hot. There doesnt seem to be too much doubt that if you heat any oil to its smoke point that you shouldnt eat it. Olive oil seems to be a bit more dangerous that other oils because it has a low smoke point. Im not totally sure if when you heat olive oil does some portion of it reach the smpke point before you actually have a kitchen full of smoke. And if the taste tests are correct in that you cant really taste the difference between say peanut oil and olive oil once you heat it then it might be right to opt for peanut or canola oil. Just sayin…

    • Olive oil tastes good (those taste testers of yours notwithstanding). I’m guessing you never use. If we’re going to get healthy here though, there isn’t any doubt that uncooked oil of any variety is way healthier than cooking with it. I don’t try to measure smoking points when I cook, although I’ve very aware that olive oil has a lower smoking point than some other oils and I use it with some gentleness. However, I don’t see mass cancer rates in countries (like much of Europe) where cooking with olive oil where it’s at. I’m sure nobody is contemplating warning labels on olive oil bottles yet like they put on cigarette packages or warning signs on restaurant windows in which they cook with olive oil.

      • More to the point, I recommend the soup…I had actually considered starting it by starting the veggies using a little pancetta instead of the olive oil…then I really would have been in trouble.

  3. This sounds amazing!! Approximately how many chestnuts do you add to a pot of soup? I think leeks would go very well in this soup! I am going to have to make this because I’m crazy about chestnuts!! You are a great cook Eugene .. do you remember the chocolate cakes we would make almost every saturday?

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