Cream of Chestnut Soup

Roasted ChestnutsHard Nut To Crack
Each year at this time I become excited to see fresh chest­nuts avail­able at the farmer’s market. I’m not really sure why. As a person who grew up on the West coast, chest­nuts are one of those foods that leave me some­what per­plexed. Chest­nuts Roasting on an Open Fire was an image planted in my head by Nat King Cole or Charles Dickens. We don’t have the street carts like they do in the East. I have no his­tory with chestnuts.

When my sister cooked an amazing chestnut soup for Thanks­giving one year, I was intrigued and enticed. Now that the chest­nuts have arrived again, I find myself longing for same soup. The problem is that meal was over 15 years ago. (The fact that I still think about should tell you how deli­cious and mem­o­rable it was!) Unfor­tu­nately, this was way before I became obsessed with cooking. I didn’t pay atten­tion to where the recipe originated.

My sister is equally flum­moxed. So I have been thumbing through my cook­books and scouring the web­sites trying to see if I can find that darn recipe. It’s keeping me up at night. (I gotta get a life.)

I did find one promising recipe in a family favorite cook­book pub­lished by the Junior League of Palo Alto in 1980. I still testing it, but it looks like it would be won­derful on chilly night. Let me know what you think…

For those who don’t want to hassle with roasting and peeling fresh chest­nuts, we have all the jarred and vacuum-​​sealed chest­nuts you could pos­sibly wish for, on aisle 7B, avail­able and waiting for you to give them a good home.

Cream of Chestnut Soup
Recipe cour­tesy of Pri­vate Col­lec­tion, Recipes from the Junior League of Palo Alto, 1980

Ingre­di­ents
1 pound fresh chest­nuts, shelled*
2 Table­spoons butter
1 Large onion, chopped
1 Large carrot, chopped
2 Cups chicken or turkey stock
¾ Cups cream
¼ Cups sherry
Salt and Pepper to taste
Whipped Cream
Paprika
Sherry

*To Shell chest­nuts, slit convex sides with a sharp knife. Bake in an oiled pan at 450° for 5–6 min­utes. When cool enough to handle, remove shells and skins with knife. If fresh chest­nuts are not avail­able, you may use an 8 or 10 ounce jar of vacuum-​​packed chestnuts.

Direc­tions
In a heavy pan, melt butter and sautée the onions until lightly browned. Add chest­nuts, car­rots and stock. If stock is not strong enough, add 1 chicken bouillon cube. Simmer until chest­nuts are soft, about 20 minutes.

Puree cooked mix­ture in a blender, pro­cessing in small batches until smooth. An immer­sion blender would work as well. Pour the puree into a medium-​​sized sauce pan and add the cream and sherry. Heat it to a simmer. Do not boil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top each serving with a dollop of lightly salted, whipped cream and a dash of paprika. Pass a cruet of sherry in the side for those who wish extra flavor.

This is a very rich soup. You will like it best with roasted meats and poultry.

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