Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Roasted Chestnut and Porcini Soup

I didn't expect to find locally grown chestnuts in our local market the weekend before Thanksgiving. But, when I found them, I couldn't resist buying up a nice handful. I wasn't sure exactly what I'd do with them at first. But, when I ran across this recipe, which I'd clipped out of an old Bon Appetit magazine, I knew it would be the perfect starter for our Thanksgiving dinner.

We'd never roasted chestnuts before, but we figured that now was as good of a time as any to figure it out. We didn't have an "open fire" lying around, so we opted for a more modest method -- roasting the nuts in a cast iron pan. It worked out quite well, if you ask me. And I'd recommend it, if you've ever got yourself a few cups of chestnuts and a 1/2 hour's time. If you're interested, you can read about our technique here.
When the chestnuts were done roasting, they needed to be peeled. A bit labor-intensive, maybe... but totally worth it in my guesstimation. I am all about enduring a bit of pain for the sake of good, honest food, though. So, take my opinion with a grain of salt if you're the type who looks for instant gratification.
While we were peeling those pesky chestnuts, we set a few porcini mushrooms afloat in some nice hot water.
The rehydrated porcini and roasted chestnuts were thrown (albeit gently) into a mid-sized saucepan with some delicious stock. We let them frolic there for between 20-30 minutes so that their flavors could meld and the chestnuts could pick up a bit of additional tenderness. And then we pureed the crap out of them...
... which resulted in one of the silkiest, smoothest soups you can imagine.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we chopped up some rutabaga and carrots and sauteed them until they were nicely caramelized. We'll spare you the details, but when all was finished, we piled them nicely into our prepared soup bowl.
When covered with the delicious soup, the veggies bobbed up top for a bit of air.
This soup definitely relies on the porcini mushrooms for its earthy character; but the chestnuts lend sweetness and texture that really takes the soup up a level. The caramelized root vegetables add interest, and they offer something toothsome to the otherwise creamy soup.

On Thanksgiving day, it was just the two of us. But, this soup is good enough that it needs to be shared. So, I'm suspecting it will have to make an encore performance at Christmas Day dinner.
Am already looking forward to it. *slurp*

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19 comments:

  1. Oh wow, labor of love and worth the effort...just beautiful!

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  2. Oh yum! Its near to impossible to get chestnuts over here, which is curious because they are a staple in british food but never really made it across the puddle!

    That soup looks delish!

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  3. Your soup sounds delicious!

    Your chestnuts are a lot prettier than the ones we have here.

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  4. This looks great, & I'm not even a big fan of mushrooms! (My older brother & sister told me they grow in the dark, damp of your stomach when I was maybe 5 & spoiled them for me forever!!)

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  5. Excellent soup. I'm planning on making a similar soup for my next dinner party (which is not till January, but I always plan ahead) that also contains celery root. I like seeing other people make similar recipes so they can be "guinea pigs" for mine.

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  6. This looks great. I was planning to make a chestnut soup tonight, but frankly yours looks better.

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  7. That one lady can't complain--it's all about food today!

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  8. That sounds really lovely! I haven't tried chestnuts in soup before, but I am really keen to try this soup.

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  9. I'm a big fan of dishes that marry rustic and classy ingredients like Porcini. This is a refined soup...perfect for entertaining.

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  10. Nice recipe!
    One question: I often see recipes for mushroom soup include sherry or Madeira to rehydrate the mushrooms. Would the flavor of either of those clash with the chestnuts? I've never had them except in salads, and I suspect they would be quite different when roasted.

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  11. We made a chestnut and mushroom soup for Thanksgiving too, posted on 11/26. I love your idea of adding diced vegetables, great color!

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  12. What a great soup, you always come up with the best recipes!

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  13. Eric - The dry sherry in this recipe actually paired nicely with the chestnuts. Definitely not overpowering, but it worked nicely against the earthiness of the mushrooms.

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  14. I have chestnuts at home and they have been sitting there for at least a month....will they go bad? I haven't found anything to make with them (until today!) and wanted to know if I should throw them out. Do I need to crack them open? Will they be obviously rotten. I have never prepared chestnuts before and wouldn't know if they were spoiled. Help!

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  15. Ashley - What I do know about Chestnuts is that they are highly perishable. So, they should be kept in the refrigerator. Provided you've done that, I'd been told they can last for up to six months.

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  16. I've never played with chestnuts, nor do I have one of those nifty hand-held emulsifiers. I better get with it! This soup looks amazing. You have such good things going on over here at Burp! I always enjoy my visits.
    :-)
    Melissa

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  17. What an intriguing pairing! I haven't seen anything similar before but since I am a chestnut and 'shrooms fan I'd eat a bowlful anytime

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  18. Your porcini soup delicious! Very nice site. Your soup recipe presentation is an eye-pleaser.I'm sure it'll be a big hit with the foodies!

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  19. Mmmm yum! You've inspired me. I've been totally afraid of chestnuts but this doesn't look too hard.

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