This started out as a winter soup, when chestnuts were easily available and a very nutritious addition to a meal.
Chestnuts are now available frozen, all year, at some markets. (Trader Joe’s is one.) Dried chestnuts are available online and at many Asian markets. So you can prepare this recipe just about at any time of the year. With a few tweaks, this is an excellent soup for vegans.
This serves six as a starter – serve in large mugs. As a soup course, four generous servings.
Chestnuts 1 pound peeled and chopped, after roasting, steaming or boiling to remove peel and inner husk.
(about 1 1/2 pounds raw in the shell)
Prepare the chestnuts ahead of time, even a day ahead and refrigerate until ready to use. This takes time.
Butter 2 tablespoons (use salted butter) Use vegetable oil or coconut oil if cooking for vegans.
Onion 1 medium, peeled and chopped
Carrot 1 medium, scrubbed and chopped
Parsnip 1 medium, peeled and chopped
Celery root 1 small or 1/2 of a large – you may substitute 2 large ribs of celery if you can’t find celery root or celeriac.
Water 1/4 cup
Chicken stock 3 cups (heat in microwave or on stove before adding to pan) Use vegetarian stock if cooking for vegans.
Apple cider 1 cup
Mace 1/4 teaspoon
Allspice 1/8 teaspoon
Saffron generous pinch
Orange zest 1/4 teaspoon
Salt and pepper to taste.
Chopped chives or scallions – 1/4 cup to sprinkle over soup in serving bowls.
In a 3-qt saucier or saucepan over medium heat melt the butter.
When the bubbles begin to subside add the chopped onion, sauté until it becomes translucent and add the chopped vegetables.
Sauté the vegetables for 5 minutes.
Add the water and the chestnuts, cover the pan and cook for about 8 minutes, remove lid and stir half-way through this time.
Add the chicken stock and simmer for 15 minutes.
Heat the apple cider in the microwave and add the spices and orange zest while the soup is simmering.
Add the cider/spice mixture to the soup.
Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Using an immersion blender puree soup in the pan. If you don’t have a stick blender, allow the soup to cool for fifteen minutes, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
Reheat in the saucier, taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with croutons and chopped chives or scallions.
May add a dollop of sour cream if desired. Non-dairy product if cooking for vegans.
Cinnamon spice Croutons
Preheat oven to 400° F.
5 slices French or sourdough bread (hearty artisan bread) cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes.
3 Tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place bread cubes in a bowl. Add the melted butter and toss to coat cubes evenly.
Sprinkle spices and salt over the cubes and toss until evenly distributed.
Spread evenly on a sheet pan and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.
Prepare no more than a day ahead, crisp briefly in hot oven if not crisp when ready to serve.