Now that temperatures have dropped again, I’m longing for a warming, creamy chestnut soup. I always have a packet of chestnuts in my freezer left over from the holiday season, and they’re good in case of an emergency craving. This recipe has a lot going for it: it’s quick to make, delicious, chic and elegant, and relatively inexpensive. Shavings of foie gras or crisply fried bacon add a decidedly festive touch. In this freezing weather, we should be able to enjoy it without feeling too guilty. (Admittedly, it’s rich!)
• 1 onion
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 ½ lbs. / 750 g chestnuts, frozen or cooked
• 2 cups / 500 ml chicken broth
• 1 ½ cups / 350 ml milk (you may need more depending on the consistency you prefer, but you can adjust this when the soup is cooked)
• ¾ cup / 200 ml whipping cream or low fat cream
• Salt and pepper
• ¾ cup / 200 ml heavy cream, firmly whipped (optional)
• Foie gras shavings or a few pieces of crisp bacon to serve (optional)
• Chives, snipped, to serve
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, and add the chestnuts. I used raw, frozen chestnuts, which work perfectly, but cooked chestnuts from a jar are excellent too. They will require a shorter cooking time.
Pour in the chicken broth.
Pour in the milk and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes if you’re using raw chestnuts, or 10 minutes if you’re using cooked chestnuts.
When they’re soft, pick out 6 or 7 whole chestnuts that have survived the cooking process and are still looking attractive.
We’ll use them as a garnish.
Pour in the cream.
Process again, until very smooth. If it’s a little too thick for your liking, add some milk and adjust the seasoning.
Keep warm. If you’re going to be adding whipped cream – and this is optional, because it makes the soup even richer – pour the cream into a mixing bowl and place, with the beaters, in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This helps the cream whip up more swiftly.
Just before serving, whip the cream until it holds fairly firm peaks. Stir in a little salt.
Serve the creamy chestnut soup with a spoonful of whipped cream. It melts quickly, and by the time I managed to take the photos, it was no longer an attractive dollop! Sprinkle with snipped chives and a few pieces of the reserved chestnuts.
You can also add a shaving of foie gras terrine or a piece of crisp bacon.