Chestnut soup


Makes 4 cups - 4 to 6 servings

During the winter months, hot roasted chestnuts are sold by vendors on the boulevards of Paris, and the meaty nut is a popular ingredient in bistros around France. Canned chestnuts, available in many supermarkets and gourmet shops, are as rich and earthy as the fresh. No peeling and fussing, they're ready in minutes. I like to serve this soup cappuccino-style in small cups topped with foamy milk steamed using my espresso machine and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg. Or, you can top the servings with a fan of paper-thin apple slices.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

¼ cup finely chopped shallots

2 cups canned chicken stock or vegetable stock (prepare using stock concentrate, cubes or powder)

One 10-ounce can peeled chestnuts, drained

1 cup half-and-half or milk

¼ cup dry sherry

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Hot foamy milk and nutmeg, preferably freshly grated, for garnish

Heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the carrot, celery, and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the stock.

In two batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth.

Pour the soup into the pan. Add the half-and-half and sherry. Stir gently over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste.

Serve the soup cappuccino-style in soup mugs or small, deep bowls topped with frothed milk and a dash of nutmeg.

Advance preparation

Prepare this soup through the pureeing step; refrigerate in a covered container for up to 3 days. Reheat and add the half-and-half and sherry just before serving.