Ever since I started making food with chestnuts, I have been searching out great chestnut recipes to try. I just cannot get over how much I love their earthy flavor. I happened to come across this great chestnut soup recipe over at The Bitten Word a couple of weeks before Christmas and knew that I had to make this for Christmas dinner. Chestnuts, more than most other holiday foods, seem to really typify the holiday season. After all, everyone knows the song that starts “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” This soup is perfect for falling in love with chestnuts all over again.
For this soup I made a couple of changes – one, I kind of cheated a little and added some chestnut puree into my soup, because our last chestnut roasting experience, while delicious, really cut up our hands alot trying to peel all of those shells. And the thought of doing that for 3 lbs of chestnuts was well, intimidating haha. I also used a lot less broth than called for – and then at the end after the soup was pureed in the food processor and added back to the pot, added in a couple cups of heavy cream.
For the garnish, I fried up thinly sliced rings of pancetta and used fresh thyme. Overall the soup was a great hit. It was definitely not something my family would usually add to their holiday menu, but everyone really liked it. I think it’s because chestnuts bring a mellow and yet far reaching flavor, and if you aren’t used to eating chestnuts, they taste like one of those flavors where you go “yes, I have come across this sort of flavor before but I cannot quite place where or when”. There is a comfort that comes with that instant familiarity even though for the life of you can can’t remember eating a chestnut before in your life. At least that was how I felt the first time I ever ate chestnuts, and I think how my family felt at Christmas dinner as well. This soup was the perfect appetizer for a formal meal, but I would be inclined to make this for any occasion, I loved it so much.
Photography Note – yes, I used direct overhead incandescent lighting, so things are a little shiny. But I had no choice, we were serving it right then! I know I know, I really need to take pics during the daylight…..