I’m sorry. I owed you this post months ago. For the past year I have been posting about a new Reader’s Challenge nearly monthly with the intent of promptly completing that challenge.
I’m not sure if you remember but the last challenge I posted was in September and it was for you to challenge me to a new soup. I received several great ideas: cauliflower soup, cheese tortellini and the list goes on.
The one that was picked ended up truly being the greatest challenge. Chestnut Soup. (Of course, it’s also one of my posts where not all the comments transferred to the new domain, including the comment that picked this soup).
When I first started looking for chestnut soup recipes I was immediately intrigued. I’ve never bought chestnuts before, let alone cook with them so I really didn’t know what to expect. I found a few similar recipes that all helped to explain the roasting process.
Then the next challenge which proved to be the greatest of them all: finding chestnuts. I’m pretty sure that every Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s within a 10 mile radius knows me as the Saturday morning shopper who asks for chestnuts. I literally had to have my husband start asking because I was too embarrassed to ask again.
So if you’re wondering, chestnuts are not available in New England in September. Or October.
But mid-November. Bingo.
Here are a few helpful tips I learned along the way: 1) there are jarred chestnuts which are already peeled for you (and you are definitely paying for this) and then what I opted for, fresh chestnuts (which take a bit of work, but are worth the effort and savings) 2) it’s best if you use them within a few days 3) it’s best to soak the chestnuts and then “score” an x in the chestnuts before roasting
This soup is perfect for the holidays! It’s elegant, filling (can you believe this thick of a soup doesn’t have any cream?!) and sure to “wow” your guests!
And yes…it’s even worth waiting two extra months for.
Chestnut Soup with Prosciutto
For about 4 small bowls
Adapted from The Bitten Word
1 lb. fresh chestnuts
2 tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
2 leeks, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced
1/2 tbs. thyme (more or less to taste)
3-4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 oz. thinly sliced proscuitto, cut into small pieces
1. Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. In medium bowl, cover the chestnuts with warm water and soak for 25 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Score an X into the flat side of each chestnut, making sure you cut all the way through the shell. Place them flat side down up on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until the Xs curl back and then chestnuts are tender when squeezed, about 25-30 minutes. Allow chestnuts to slightly cool (enough to handle) then peel back the shell and remove shell and inner skin (a spoon may also help to scoop out resistant nuts). Roughly chop nuts and set aside.
2. In a large pot, heat 2 tbs. olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chestnuts and thyme and cook about 1 minute. Add 3 cups chicken broth and pinch of salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, until chestnuts are very tender. Remove from heat and puree the soup with an immersion or stand blender. Return to medium-low heat and gently reheat, add additional chicken broth, if desired to thin soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, in small skillet, heat remaining tsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp (about 2 to 3 minutes). Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with proscuitto and additional thyme (optional). Serve and enjoy!
Using random.org the winner of the Rudi’s Bread is Tasty Healthy Green!
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~Have you ever made anything with chestnuts? What is your favorite way to eat them?