Chestnuts are amazing: they are very nutritious, gluten free, cholesterol free and almost fat free as well. You can simply roast them over the fire and enjoy them as a nibble, use them as stuffing for meat recipes or desserts, but they are capable of so much more!
A perfect example is this soup: it may look awful, but it is absolutely delicious. It would be perfect for a cold, rainy autumn day; especially if enjoyed with crunchy garlicky croutons.
You can boil the chestnuts first and then peel them or you can peel them first and then cook them; I think the first method is much easier, as soaking the chestnuts first (20-25 minutes) in warm water helps to soften them up before slashing them.
for the soup:
- 4tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium carrot (chopped)
- 1 celery rib, (chopped)
- 1/2 medium onion (chopped )
- 1.5 pounds unpeeled chestnuts
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
for the Croutons:
- 1/2 large loaf of country bread
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the Croutons:
- Cut the crusts off the loaf of bread.
- Slice the bread irregularly into small pieces
- Pour about 1/4 cup olive oil into a large saute pan
- add the garlic cloves
- Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, gently tossing the bread and the garlic around so nothing gets burnt
- Remove garlic cloves
- Evenly spread the bread in the pan
- Add butter (be careful not to make the butter and the oil sizzle, it means the heat is too high)
- Adjust the heat, then stir the croutons often as they cook.
- Cook for 15 more minutes, until the croutons become crispy and of a nice golden brown colours on all sides
For the soup:
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.
- Add carrot, celery and onion and cook over low heat
- stir until softened, for about 10 minutes.
- Add the chestnuts and cook for 4 more minutes.
- Add the port and thyme sprigs and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until the wine is reduced by half.
- Add the stock and bring to a simmer.
- Partially cover the pot, and simmer over low heat at least 25 minutes.
- Discard the thyme springs.
- Insert an immersion blender into the soup and thoroughly puree it (or just pulse it in a food processor and then put it back)
- Return soup to a simmer, finally add the cream
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with croutons on top.