Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Leek and Chestnut Soup

December 2010 357 As much as I enjoy sandy beaches and mild climates, I’d be hard pressed to give up the four seasons, even with all the shoveling required after the recent snowfall here in New Jersey. There’s something warm and cozy about a pot of soup on the back burner and bread baking in the oven that doesn’t feel quite the same when the thermometer is hot enough for gin and tonics and grilled steaks. No, for now, I’ll put up with the shoveling and keep warm in the kitchen.

Obviously if you don’t like chestnuts, you won’t like this soup. But if you do….. well, you’ll love this soup. I wish I could tell you where I got this recipe, but it was handwritten on a paper placemat tucked among the scores of recipes I’ve collected over the years. I adjusted it somewhat in any event, so it’s not exactly the same as the one I wrote down.

If you have ever roasted chestnuts, you know how pesky it is to dig the meat out. Well, I’ve just been clued in to a very easy way to slip the buggers from their shells, and it doesn’t even involve making the traditional little “x” on the shell. Click here to view a video from Philip Rutter, founding president, The American Chestnut Foundation showing you how. It lasts about 15 minutes, but it’s very informative.

But to give you the idea in a nutshell (sorry, couldn’t resist folks), what you have to do instead is slice the raw chestnuts in half, then drop them into boiling water.

December 2010 215

Leave them in for only a couple of minutes, then take them out and work with them while they’re warm. They’re harder to peel after they cool. Take a small spring-loaded pliers in one hand (actually mine weren’t even spring-loaded) and hold the chestnut in the other. Use the pliers to grasp the shell and squeeze - the meat should loosen immediately. Some of them may break into small bits, but in general they’ll come out so much more readily than the traditional method of cutting an “x”, roasting them and getting frustrated when most of it falls apart.

December 2010 216 At this point, the chestnuts won’t be cooked, but you can proceed with this recipe and they’ll cook in the broth. If you want to eat them as a snack, just pop the peeled chestnuts onto a baking sheet and roast in the oven for another 15 minutes or so, depending on how large they are. Be careful not to leave them too long, or they’ll dry out quickly and become hard as a hockey puck since they won’t have their protective coating.

Chestnuts are also sold in jars and in foil bags already fully cooked, and you can probably use those instead if you like. Naturally, the ones you buy fresh are going to taste the best. Take it from this little squirrel friend outside my kitchen door, who seemed to like his chestnut well enough to hoard it under the snow. Hope it’s still waiting for him when the snow melts.

December 2010 314

Leek and Chestnut Soup

Printable Recipe Here

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced leeks (about 3 medium leeks)
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 pound chestnuts
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine (or sherry)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • heavy cream (optional)
  • sour cream

Melt the butter and sauté the leeks, carrots and chestnuts for about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, wine, salt and pepper and continue to simmer on low heat, partially covered, for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the chestnuts are fully cooked.  Put everything in the blender to puree, then reheat, adding cream if desired. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

29 comments:

Proud Italian Cook said...

Oh that soup looks as smooth as silk Linda. I never had chestnut soup but I know I would love it. I roasted chestnuts about 3 weeks ago and had the hardest time removing the meat, boiling first is the way to go! thanks for the tip!

Lori Lynn said...

Hi Linda - the soup sounds heavenly. I have only cooked with the chestnuts from Melissa'a that come vacuum-packed. I do need to try the fresh ones!
I hope you have a beautiful new year and hope that the holidays aren't too difficult.
LL

The Food Hunter said...

Love chestnuts. Thanks for the tip and the soup recipe

The Food Hunter said...

Love chestnuts. Thanks for the tip and the soup recipe

Marcellina said...

I have never had chestnut soup. Obviously it is not chestnut season in Australia at the moment but I will certainly keep your idea of removing the meat fromt he shell. Great tip!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A marvelous winter combo! A warming and comforting soup.

That squirrel is too cute!

Happy New Year!

Cheers,

Rosa

Cathy said...

I've tried roasting chestnuts the traditional way and have to admit that I wasn't wild about them. Maybe its something one has to grow up with like pickled herring and oysters. Your soup does look delicious, Linda, and I wish I could try a bowl.

Happy New Year!

Claudia said...

I love chestnut soup and do some every January so of course this recipe will be made. Peeling roasted chestnuts is somewhat soothing - in an Italian-zen sort of way. I love the smooth, sleek sweetness of the soup.

You have one lucky squirrel - who - if smart - will never leave your yard. I love winter for soups also - but I'd be fine with a 1-month winter!

Barbara GF said...

Your leek and chestnut soup looks luscious, Linda! I've made chestnut soup once before, but not like this. I will have to give it a try. Too bad I did not pull up the last of the leeks in the garden before the blizzard hit!
I hope your new year is bright!

Peter M said...

Winter's here and I'm all about soups. i have some chestnuts...perhaps it's time for this soup!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

We love roasted chestnuts at my house, and I always put them in my Thanksgiving stuffing. I never had them as a soup, however, but I think I'd love to try them this way.

Philip's voice reminded me so much of the TV painter Bob Ross! :)

Mary said...

This sounds delicious. Our weather is very iffy and soup is always welcome. Yours looks exceptionally good. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

Linda said...

Linda this looks fabulous and I love your bowl!
Perfect for the weather we have been having here in New Jersey!
I love chestnuts!

Carlene said...

Oh my, Linda....this soup sounds so good. Many years ago I went to a wine society dinner cooked by a famous chef...he served a chestnut soup made with apricot sherry. I have never forgotten how divine an inspiration the apricot flavor was. I keep meaning to try a chestnut soup with, perhaps, some dried apricots added in with a good sherry. Did I mention that it was a masterful touch?? Loved the tip about shelling them...Wishing you all good things in the coming year..

bellini valli said...

With the colder weather settling in Linda a soup like this would be so welcome!!!Thge little furry guy got in on the action too.

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I just realized that I've never had chestnuts. Silly me. What a beautiful soup! I need to make a point of trying chestnuts, and this would be a great way. Thanks for the tip on shelling them.
Happy New Year!

Jen_from_NJ said...

Thank you for the chestnut tips Linda! Warm soup and homemade bread sound just perfect!

elra said...

Happy New Year to you and your whole family ! May this 2011 bring lots of wonderful thing in life.

Sheryll And Critters. said...

Oh Linda, I love your recipe, even though I have not made it. I can not find Chestnuts in the stores this year, well, I did not know about the jars containing already cooked ones. I am with you, only really want the fresh ones. I would shovel snow to get a bowl of your soup. That is if I could get there and actually do the shovel stuff.. sounds very back breaking. I love your linens, did you make them? I was wondering if there was a chestnut blight or something... since I can not find any in this area. I am in Jacksonville, Florida if anyone knows where in the west side of town? Love you....... hope you are well.

Medifast Coupon said...

Soups are always the perfect winter food, but this leek and chesnut soup is a favourite!

Cookin' Up Dreams in April's Kitchen said...

I actually have never cooked with chesnuts, but this recipe looks so simple I am going to start. Thanks so much! Also love the logo at the top of this blog, cute!

Frank said...

Great idea for a lovely soup! I just *love* chestnuts in any form.

Squirrels are such cute animals—in the wild. We had one get in our basement and it was quite a task to shoo it out of there. Did you know that squirrels hiss like snakes? ;)

tasteofbeirut said...

Thanks for the tip on peeling those chestnuts and the soup looks fabulous!

Daniela said...

Molto interessante la tua zuppa di porri e castagne, la segno. Simpatica la foto dello scoiattolo sulla neve. Buon 2011, un abbraccio Daniela.

Anonymous said...

Linda,
I love chestnut soup. One question - is the 1lb. of chestnuts with the shell or without? Thanks.
Arlene

The Healthy Gourmet........................ said...

I just today stumbled on your blog and I also am Italian (grandparents from Tuscany) and from New Jersey (Lake Hopatcong). As I will be celebrating my 30th Anniversary next year, reading your post about the birthday souffle for Richard brought tears to my eyes. People who do not blog can not understand that this little piece of you, put to type, in a format created and loved, for reasons so diverse and different, become an integral part of everyday living for those of us that are as addicted to it as we were as young girls writing our utmost secret thoughts in a book hidden under the mattress. I hope that you continue to share your wonderful pictures and recipes with all of us, and that many more will have the best of luck to have stumbled upon them as I did.

Marysol said...

I'm also a big fan of the four seasons, even if (sometimes) I grumble at the cold and snow, in winter.

But this lovely soup might help me dig myself out of the winter blahs.

Sheryll And Critters. said...

I no longer have a processor or blender (they died) and you can still make this soup...... just do like we used to do years ago and use a potato masher (me) or a sieve and it is not really necessary to have a good soup to have it pureed..... isn't that right Linda?

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Sheryll - Yes, you can use a potato masher or sieve, but it won't be as smooth a texture as if you had a processor or blender.