Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chestnut soup with nutmeg

I had chestnut soup for the first time in Germany 5 years ago, and was immediately intrigued. It was made with venison, which I don’t remember having had before, and the depth of flavor was just wonderful. I searched for a recipe and found several, but didn’t try any until the Boston Globe printed Adam Ried’s recipe in 2008. I couldn’t locate it anywhere online to post here, but I still have that page in my recipe ringbinder!

The first time I made this soup, I boiled the whole, raw chestnuts and peeled the inner and outer layers around the nut meat, then decided “never again”. Every year since, I’ve used jarred or vacuum packed chestnuts, preferring the flavor of the jarred (pre-peeled) chestnuts.

The recipe does not call for any meat, which is fine with me, since I usually serve it as an appetizer before a meal with meat choices. I’ve always omitted the 1 TBSP brandy called for, but feel free to add some to yours. The use of an immersion blender makes the job much easier than in an upright blender.
Melt 1 TBSP butter at medium heat, add 2 chopped leeks, 1 chopped pear, and ½ tsp. salt. Stir, cook about 2 minutes, then reduce heat, cover pan, and continue to cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 4 cups chicken broth, 1 jar (14.8 oz) roasted chestnuts* and bring to a boil. [*reserve 5 chestnuts for garnish, chopping finely]. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Puree the mixture, then add ½ cup half-and-half, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Heat through, and serve with a garnish of chopped chestnuts. The soup can be frozen for later without any ill effects before adding the half-and-half.

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