There is nothing like some hot Chestnut Soup to warm you up when its chilly outside. The one problematic thing with chestnut soup is the sweetness of chestnuts. When it comes to this particular genre of soups, its very easy to cross the line from soup to dessert. Thats where the garlic and pancetta in my recipe come in. All said, this is a simple recipe, with only a few ingredients, but the result is a whole bowl of yummy goodness.
- Peeled Chestnuts (600g)
- Pancetta (150g)
- Garlic (8 cloves = 0.5 bulb)
- Chicken Stock Cubes (2)
- Seal the peeled chestnuts in a gallon zip-loc bag with most of the air squeezed out. Bash the chestnuts with a meat mallet or rolling pin till the chestnut is reduced to little bits.
- In a pot with 4 cups of boiling water, dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes.
- Add the chestnuts to the pot and simmer for ninety minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In the meanwhile peel half a bulb of garlic and put the cloves through the garlic press for mincing.
- Next, fry 150g of cubed pancetta on low heat in a pan until the fat has pretty much melted and the pancetta begins to crisp. Add the garlic and continue to fry til the garlic starts to brown nicely. Immediately turn off the heat and add a cup of water to stop the garlic from getting burnt.
- When the ninety minutes is up, your chestnut bits should have soften nicely. Blend the chestnut pieces into a watery puree using an immersion blender. Chestnuts are pretty tough so you’ll need to stir the blender around the pot on high power for about 30 seconds to whip the soup into a nice creamy texture.
- Add the contents of the pan into the pot and bring to a simmer again. Add 2t sage, 1t nutmeg and 1t oregano, 2T of bourbon. Maintain the simmer for fifteen minutes so the crispy pancetta can soak in some moisture.
- Towards the end, add water to bring your soup to the consistency you like. Sprinkle with black pepper, taste and add salt til the soup tastes just right. Garnish with a bit of chopped parsley.
- Nowadays you can just buy peeled chestnuts but if you are starting off with raw chestnuts, cut a cross on the shell (so they don’t explode) and roast them in an oven for 20 minutes at about 200oC before peeling them.
- Chestnuts are naturally sweet so you’ll want to use the smoked or affumicata type of pancetta. Pancetta is seasoned with lots of herbs so they release a really nice complex taste into the soup. Don’t be tempted to drain off the oil that melts into the pan, that’s where the flavour lies. There is more than enough starch from the chestnuts to emulsify the oil so your soup won’t be oily.
- Tip: add a teaspoon of miso in place of salt for that extra dimension of flavour.