My lovely friend, Valerie, introduced me to the wonder of chestnut soup. She grew up in the south of France where chestnuts feature widely in the cuisine. I had never tasted them, let alone attempted to cook with them. In some ways chestnuts remind me of the French - glossy and glamorous but a bit formidable! How on earth are you meant to turn such a solid looking nut into soup?
It's surprisingly easy, so long as you have a sharp knife to score a cross on the top of each nut. The first time I made this soup I made it too thick - more like pumpkin soup texture. It tastes far better as a thin soup.
The original recipe has 25 grams of butter swirled through at the end (in the best French tradition) but to me, it tastes just as delicious without the butter. I can already hear the cries of horror from my friend!
Chestnuts are in season for just a short time in autumn, so be quick to grab some before the season ends.
1 stalk celery
3 slices bread, crusts removed (I use a good sourdough)
2 cloves, ground
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 litres chicken stock
salt and pepper
Cut a cross on the top of each chestnut.
Boil 5 minutes in salted water. Drain.
Clean pot ready for soup.
While warm, peel and return to the same pot.
Dice celery and bread.
Add to pot with cloves, nutmeg and stock.
Bring to boil and simmer 30 minutes.
Blend, season (add 25g butter if you want to be truly French!)
Simmer 10 minutes.
Dice 2 or 3 extra slices of bread.
Pan fry in olive oil or butter to make croutons to sprinkle on top of soup.