Chestnut Soup

I can still remember eating my first chestnut, many years ago on a cold wintery street in Paris. Vendors were roasting them over braziers and selling the hot chestnuts in paper cones. I ate the whole cone in one deliciously nutty, warming experience.

To this day I still get seduced by the wonderful smell of the Paris street vendor’s roasting chestnuts, and can’t wait to purchase yet another paper cup full of these wonderfully delicious morsels.

As promised in my last post, here is my recipe for the gorgeous chestnut soup.

When you’re purchasing chestnuts only select plump examples with a shiny skin – they’ll be the freshest. Stay away from any that are mouldy or withered.

Chestnut Soup – Recipe

  • 1 leek (white part only) thinly sliced
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 500 gm. blanched chestnuts (see method below)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1.5 litres good chicken stock (I like to make my own)
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup (125 ml) pouring cream

To prepare chestnuts first slit the shell, with a small sharp paring knife, and peel it away. Bring the chestnuts to the boil in a small saucepan of cold water. They are ready as soon as the water boils. Left any longer they’ll go grey. Not very appetising. Remove the pan from the heat, then take out one chestnut at a time and slip off the papery skin. Now you can start on the soup.

Sauté the onion, celery, leek, chestnuts and bay leaves in the olive oil in a stock pot over a medium heat until the vegetables are soft and golden. Do not let them burn. Season with salt and add 1 litre of the stock, then simmer until chestnuts are very soft, about 25-30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and then puree the mixture in a food processor.

Season with pepper, check to see if more salt is needed and return to the stock pot. If the mixture seems too thick, add some or all of the remaining (500 ml.) chicken stock.

Then add the cream and reheat gently. Now you’re ready to serve; however to create an extra visual and textural delight I like to drizzle some very fine, extra virgin olive oil over the soup and scatter some deep-fried flat parsley leaves on top for a bit of crunch.