Cream of chestnut soup is just one delicious way to enjoy roasted chestnuts. Photo © Evegny B | Fotolia.
When the air becomes crisp and the autumn leaves rustle, the aroma of roasting chestnuts fills the air. Served up by street vendors in our town, this is old-time comfort food.
In addition to snacking on roasted chestnuts, we have a passion for chestnut soup and for the classic French dessert, Mont Blanc, which uses sweetened chestnut purée. (More about that below.)
Much of our canned chestnut supply is cultivated in, and imported from, southern-central France. Canned chestnuts are peeled and pre-cooked, so they can be enjoyed without “roasting on an open fire.”
Look for the Roland brand at your grocer’s or specialty food store. They’re available whole, peeled and pre-cooked, in water, or as a cream or purée. (If you’re new to cooking, please note: Chestnuts in water are NOT the same as water chestnuts. You want the former.)
Chestnuts are chock full of antioxidants, and studies show that they may reduce the risks of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Chestnuts also deliver one’s daily dose of vitamins B6 and C, and are a good source of fiber and potassium.
Chestnut soup is an easy-to-make comfort food and a classic to ward off the fall-winter chill. A recipe from chef and beekeeper Laurey Masterton follows. It’s from her forthcoming “The Fresh Honey Cookbook” (September 2013 / Storey Publishing).
“From-scratch advocates may want to roast and peel their own chestnuts,” says Laurey, “which is easy enough to do although time-consuming. Or you can purchase whole, peeled chestnuts.”
Don’t pair chestnut honey with the chestnuts. “Chestnut honey has too strong a flavor for this recipe,” she advises. “Instead, I suggest eucalyptus, a dark honey that doesn’t have an overly assertive taste, so the chestnut flavor can shine.” (See the different varieties of honey.)
The recipe serves 6–8.
We don’t like a lot of sweetness in soup, so we use only a teaspoon of honey.
CREAM OF CHESTNUT SOUP RECIPE
1. COMBINE. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over low heat. Add the onion and sauté until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the chestnuts, carrots and stock. Simmer over low heat until the chestnuts are very tender (until you can poke a fork through one), about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. BLEND. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth, or drain the vegetables in a colander and pulse them in a food processor until smooth; return to the pot and blend with the broth.
3. ADD. Add the cream, honey and sherry. Add the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. If the soup is too thick, add additional stock or cream. Warm over medium-low heat but do not boil, as the cream will curdle.
4. GARNISH. Garnish as desired and serve. We like the combined garnishes of chestnut pieces and fresh herbs, but you can serve the soup plain, with just a bit of fresh pepper and/or a simple crouton.
Find more of our favorite soup recipes.
While chestnuts can be eaten raw, cooking them allows for a sweeter, more delicate flavor. Other delicious uses include:
†The dessert is named after the highest mountain in the Alps (and the entire European Union). It lies between the regions of Haute-Savoie, France and the Aosta Valley in Italy.
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