Chestnut Soup

And it’s 2014!!  December whizzed by in a flash of ripped wrapping paper, sparkly lights and clinking glasses. I selfishly surrendered control of my kitchen to my houseguest and she pulled out all the stops, dishing out one cracking meal after another. I gleefully played sous-chef (fancy word for got-in-her-way-a-lot) and learnt a fair few things from her; butchery was one of them. I was also enjoying the downtime. Christmas season cooking isn’t half as stressful if you aren’t actually the one donning the apron. My friend cannot actually fully appreciate how much I needed that. Or maybe she did and I just didn’t know I needed it.

Chestnut Soup TPP_0014-2Chestnut Soup January has come, cold and dreary. Even here,  the heavens poured their gloom. Schools have reopened and I have re-entered the kitchen. During the last few weeks I’ve returned to old favourites, cooking what was familiar and comforting. This soup is one of them.

I, and I hope others too, tend to hoard packets of prepared chestnuts just for Christmas, which comes and goes but a few jars of waxy, sweet chestnuts stubbornly remain. This wonderful recipe from Nigella makes great use of said jars and more importantly, makes a colossal amount, so it’s perfect for the freezer for those days when boiling water is asking too much. As ever with Nigella’s recipe, you are free to fiddle. Up the chestnuts, add herbs for example. Her original idea was to combine it with celeriac. I find this simpler recipe, with the addition of crumbled bacon at the end simply satisfying and it gets the family vote.

For a while, I thought I’d bring in 2014 with a bang on the blog, some fancy, elaborate recipe that would be suitable to mark an occasion. But then, this simple recipe perhaps is much more fitting. A humble beginning, unpretentious but still, one that makes me happy in the eating. So, with this comforting bowlful, I wish you, Reader, the best of times for 2014. Thanks for being here!

Chestnut Soup from Nigella's Christmas

1 onion
1 leek
3 carrots
2 stick celery
2 garlic cloves or 3 tbsp garlic infused oil
500gm of red lentils, washed
3 litres vegetable stock (if making for vegetarians/vegans) or chicken stock
500gm approx vaccum packed chestnuts
125 ml amontillado sherry, optional

For serving
small bunch of parsley
1 teaspoon garlic oil, optional
10 rashers thin cut streaky bacon.

Finely chop or process the onion, leek, carrots, celery and garlic cloves, if using. Heat oil (or garlic oil) in a large saucepan and add the chopped vegetables. Cook for 10 minutes on a moderate-low heat until they have softened a little.

Add the lentils and turn them well in the vegetables.

Add the stock, bring to the boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer until the lentils are soft, around 40 minutes

Bung in the chestnuts and then blend the soup, adding more water/stock if needed. This soup thickens a lot on standing, so if you plan to make this ahead of time, don’t bother adding too much water/stock now as you will have to invariably thin it at serving.

When you want to eat the soup, bring it back up to heat, add the sherry, if using and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Finely chop the parsley, fry the bacon till crisp and scorched in place and place on kitchen paper to absorb excess fat. Crumble the bacon into a bowl and serve alongside the soup for people to add as they wish. Sprinkle bowls of hot soup with parsley and serve.

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20 thoughts on “Chestnut Soup

  1. Emma

    Who says chestnut soup is not a bang?! Sometimes a seemingly unpretentious dish is more heart warming than a eleborate and fancy dish. I love it 🙂

  2. lapetitecasserole

    I think you made the best decision. After the fancy and shiny colours of Christmas, when the winter is still “in charge” the only thing you need is a simple and confort soup. I love your recipe!

  3. Thanh @ eat, little bird

    What a lovely recipe to start the year with! I also love this recipe of Nigella’s 🙂 We eat a lot of chestnuts around this time of the year and I particularly love them in soups such as this one. I, myself, have a few tins of sweetened chestnut purée to get through …

  4. Rushi!

    Yayy Carrie is back! Love the pics, that white soup bowl is so elegant. I’m ashamed of myself as I’ve never had chestnut soup. I’ve seen loads of sweetned chestnut puree but never tried it either, looks like I’ll have to rectify that pretty soon. 🙂

  5. Big Sis Little Dish

    I just had a similar dilema about leftover chestnut puree. I ended up making a chestnut and kabocha pumpkin soup with chorizo that turned out very well. If I had seen your recipe first I could have saved myself the trouble of buying a pumpkin and sausage! It looks great. I’ll bookmark it for next year!

  6. annauk1

    I love this soup, I really do! I made it on Boxing Day – the family declared it the best soup they’ve ever had!

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