Monday, December 26, 2011
When my mom asked me to bring a soup and a vegetable for her international Christmas eve dinner, I told her I'd make a chestnut soup. What country is that from? Ummm...Italy. Really? Well, that's where I first saw what a chestnut looks like fresh off the tree - seemingly inpenetrable balls of threatening brown spikes which then reveals the shiny, still ridiculously difficult to crack inner shell. It's where I became enamoured with the Italian sweet Marron Glace (candied chestnuts). The bags of chestnut flour I buy, when I can find them, are imported from Italy. Yes, really.
In a large soup pot I caramelized diced onions, shallots, and celery with fresh rosemary. When they started to caramelize, I added roasted and peeled chestnuts - thank goodness for Trader Joe's vacuum packed ones! - and cooked them for about ten minutes, stirring constantly. Then I topped all of that with organic chicken broth and added sliced brown crimini mushrooms and fresh bay leaves, bringing it to a boil and simmering until the mushrooms were cooked. I seasoned the soup lightly with sea salt and fresh pepper, finishing off the soup with some heavy cream. Remove bay leaves when serving.