For the longest time chestnuts have been somewhat of an anomaly for me. I love their subtle, nutty flavor, but have enjoyed them in dishes at restaurants, never at home. During the holidays, supermarket shelves are packed with canned and jarred chestnuts, begging you to “buy me!”.
I’ve never been one for canned goods if I can find them fresh. As much as I love canning salsas, fruit and jams, you’ll never see me handling canned vegetables. Once upon a time, dinner at my grandma’s would be some fantastic Polish meat or stew, with a side of canned vegetables du jour, cooked until they were practically flavorless mush. It might have scarred me for life.
When I walked into the coop a few weeks ago and found fresh local chestnuts staring back at me, I really couldn’t deny them any further. I brought a bag home where they sat in my refrigerator for longer than I’d like to admit. The idea of roasting the chestnuts daunted me. I knew there was sweet meat inside, just how could I get to it?
My apprehension was accurate. After roasting and prying the flesh from the warm shells, I now understand the desire to go with canned chestnuts. Those are some stubborn nuts! Luckily, after the painstaking effort of separating the nuts from their shells, the soup doesn’t need much else. Carrots, onion, celery and garlic for base, stock and a generous pour of heavy cream. Comfort in a bowl.
Creamy Chestnut Soup (Serves 4)
- 1lb fresh chestnuts
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 celery rib, diced
- 4 c vegetable broth
- Sea salt
- 1 c cream
- Fresh ground pepper