Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chestnut Soup

This soup has such a wonderful flavor. It's always a hit at our house. If you can't find bottled chestnuts in your local stores, they can be ordered online. It's definitely worth the trouble. One year, I started with chestnuts in the shells--roasting, peeling, and chopping--but the soup didn't come out nearly as well, and the preparation was much more difficult.

Since we're not alcohol drinkers, I keep bottles of cooking wine and sherry in the 'fridge for recipes like this one. This dish can easily be converted from vegetarian to vegan by substituting olive oil for the butter and rice milk for the regular milk.

UPDATE: I'm adding a  nonalcoholic alternative to sherry.  Tried it this year, and it turned out as well as or better than actual sherry.


7 oz. bottled chestnuts (200g), chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 lg. carrot, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 med. onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried chervil
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup milk (non-dairy is okay)
2 Tbsp. sherry
      OR 1 Tbsp. apple juice, 1 Tbsp. coffee, pinch vanilla powder*

Melt butter with pepper in a stockpot over med. heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, salt, and herbs. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 10 min.

Add wine and stock. Stir in chestnuts. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

Remove from heat and stir in milk and sherry or juice, coffee, and vanilla. Purée in batches.** Return to pot for re-heating. Just before serving, heat soup to desired temperature, covered.

Serves 4 - 8 (4 for main dish, 8 cups for appetizer)

* Ground vanilla beans can be bought online.
** For a smooth soup, purée with a food processor. Use an immersion blender for a chunkier texture.

Adapted from a recipe in The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins.

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