Tuesday 7 January 2014




It’s winter and depending on how you look at it winter-time epitomizes either a soul-destroying white desert for fresh seasonal produce or a winter wonderland of unique seasonal goodies.  I choose the latter of course because there are some things that I simply must take advantage of while they are still around. Today I am showcasing chestnuts because they are so evocative of cosy winter nights, not to mention that the markets are brimming with barrels of these shiny plump nuts that I liken to teddy bear noses -- I get uncharacteristically kitschy around this season, my apologies.

I first discovered this flavourful and warming chestnut soup recipe in my bible for authentic German cooking entitled Die echte deutsche Küche by Susi and Pete Eising, and I love it so much I cannot resist sharing it. Chestnuts, they are not just for roasting on an open fire!

                                     Check out my video on how it's done!

GERMAN CHESTNUT SOUP                               

500 g chestnuts
1.5 L beef stock, best if home-made
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1.5 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
50-75 ml cream (or to taste)
salt and pepper
a dash of freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven at 225C or 450 F
  2. Using a sharp pairing knife, slit an X on the flat side of each chestnut (this is to prevent them from bursting and to ensure they cook through)
  3. Place the chestnuts on a baking tray, slit side up, and bake for about 15 min. or until the shells burst open
  4. Let the chestnuts cool before you peel them
  5. Place your peeled chestnuts in a pot and cover with about ½ L of beef stock
  6. Bring the pot to a simmer and let the chestnuts cook until softened, around 15 -20 min.
  7. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, sweat the onions in the butter until translucent, then add to your pot
  8. Once the chestnuts are softened in their stock, purée everything until smooth and silky, then set aside
  9. In another pot, bring the remaining 1 L of stock to a boil, add your very finely chopped carrot and celery, then simmer on medium heat for about 10 min.
  10. Add the cream to the stock, followed by the puréed chestnuts, season well with salt, pepper and a dash of grated nutmeg
  11. Top with some more cream and finely sliced roasted chestnuts

TIP: for a wonderful homemade beef stock, roast a few beef bones in the oven, then transfer to a large pot of water with a carrot, an onion or leek, and a celery stick. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 1-2 hours. 

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