Cream of Chestnut Soup

by Jenn on January 9, 2010

in Diabetic Friendly,Gluten Free,Soups

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…..


Woman with a Whisk January 9, 2010 at 1:44 pm

To make peeling chestnuts a bit easier, I do it right when it’s come out of the oven while wearing a pair of rubber dishwashing gloves. The shells are easier to peel when it’s really hot, and I don’t cut myself as much.

Beautiful garnish!

Jenn January 9, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Oooh good idea! We were definitely too slow the last time we were peeling chestnuts (we also had 2 lbs. that we roasted) and by the time they had cooled we had only gotten through about 1/4 of them. Will def. try the dishwashing glove idea next time!

bake in paris January 11, 2010 at 6:08 am

Jenn, this look so delicious! Yes, chestnut does bring the familiar comfort with it, that same feeling I have if I get to have Mont Blanc.

Anyway, I came across peeled chestnut in package, a product from China that is very popular here in Thailand so for that reason, I can skip the tedious shelling and peeling process. Maybe you have something like that there?

Sawadee from Bangkok,

Iris January 11, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I’ve never actually had a chestnut. I’m a little intimidated by them since I’ve never used them. But this soup looks so good, I might have to get over my intimidation!

Lisa January 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Chestnuts are one of those things that I want to love, but can’t seem to get into the flavor. This soup looks so good though I may have to revisit the idea.

Ashley December 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Is this soup good to make ahead? Or should it be served immediately? I’m trying to plan ahead! It looks delicious, I’m really excited to serve it to my family. Thanks for sharing!

Jenn December 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I haven’t tried making it ahead of time, but I don’t see why the soup can’t be reheated – the only thing I would not do ahead is crisping the prosciutto (or pancetta or bacon, whatever you want to use) or adding the fresh herbs. I’d say it should be fine to give it a shot – hope you enjoy it, we loved it!

Melanie December 19, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I happened upon your blog while looking for a great chestnut soup recipe. :) After reading about your problems with peeling chestnuts, I wanted to give you some hints. Take this from someone who once a) got a very LARGE piece of chestnut membrane in my EYE while peeling chestnuts (who knew one had to wear safety glasses while performing this tedious chore?) and b) twice a year, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah/Christmas, had the pain of chestnut shells that became embedded under my fingernails. Obviously, I was desperate for a solution!

I found three. Two are a bit more pricey.

The least expensive one is to BOIL the chestnuts. This makes the membranes VERY soft…and SO much easier to peel! In many cases they pop RIGHT out!

Another option is to see if they have peeled chestnuts available in the baking area of your grocery store. Larger stores will have them…smaller stores probably won’t. :( They’re usually available in bottles or cans. And they’re generally expensive.

Finally, you can simply purchase peeled chestnuts online. It’s probably not as inexpensive as buying chestnuts in the shell, but then, I’ve found that buying chestnuts in the shell isn’t very inexpensive, anyway, and if it saves you the work, well, I’d consider that money well spent!

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