Roasted and shelled chestnuts make up a rich, silky Chestnut Soup suitable as a late fall dinner course or dessert.
Found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, chestnuts (genus Castanea) are the edible nuts of several species of deciduous trees and shrubs. Usually producing very late in the harvest season, chestnuts were often a staple food for the poor as so many trees were located on common grounds and forests, and thus the nuts were free forage.
Known as velouté de châtaignes in France, this soup takes advantage of the meaty nature and sweeter flesh of the chestnut for an otherwise savory but flexible dish. With a blend of mirepoix, butter and stock, the combination is puréed with wine and a small amount of dairy for a thick, velvety offering that serves equally as meal’s appetizer or finish.
Chestnuts are unique among nuts in that they contain very little protein or fat, instead mostly composed of carbohydrates on the same level as wheat or rice. (Chestnut flour can be used to bake bread, although it resists rising.) They are also the only nuts to be a nutritional source of vitamin C.
Ideally, chestnuts can be purchased already shelled, cooked and packaged in vacuum packs or sealed jars. With additional effort, fresh chestnuts can be shelled and roasted or boiled, although it may take up to an hour of cooking to render the flesh edible.
Serve warm or chilled, either with a meal as a soup course or in a shooter for dessert. Pairs extremely well with chocolate.
2 c cooked chestnuts
1 stalk of celery
½ yellow onion
2 T butter
4 c chicken stock
1 c red wine
½ t thyme
1 Chop the carrot, celery and onion and sauté in butter over medium heat until soft, about 10 min.
2 Add the chestnuts, thyme and wine and boil for about 5 min. Add the stock and return to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 min.
3 Purée in batches until smooth. Stir in the dairy, and season to taste.