Monday, November 16, 2009

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire...


One time, growing up, I distinctly remember boiling (or was it steaming?) chestnuts, and peeling them, for our Thanksgiving stuffing. More than the nuts themselves, I remember the way my fingers (and nailbeds) felt after all that peeling. Ouch.

So, I am terribly afraid to admit that I -- one who seeks to find a connection in eating "closer" to the earth -- cheat when it comes to chestnuts. Granted, I will only buy canned peeled or pureed chestnuts that are of high quality (French!) and have no additives. But still. Really guilty conscience here.

So, what have I been doing with chestnuts? Well, it all started a couple of years ago when my family spent New Year's in Paris. And we went to L'Atelier Du Joel Robuchon one evening for dinner, and I had the most heavenly chestnut soup. Mind boggling and life changing! Ever since, I have been on a quest (a patient one) to find a similar recipe.

Fast forward to last week -- where all of a sudden my chestnut cravings hit in full force. I started googling recipes and decided to try and experiment over the weekend, when I encountered a relatively simple preparation from Rachael Ray. I'm not a huge Rachael Ray fan, but at the same time, I have an open mind and palate. There is no "gunk" in here, so hey -- I had to try.

This evening, after a rough couple of hours (fire alarms, backing cars into other cars...), some time in front of the stove was what I needed to calm me down. I took Rachael's recipe and slightly modified it. Here is my version -- I drizzled some heavy cream on top (mascarpone, greek yogurt or creme fraiche would have been ideal). I had a green salad with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts to accompany, as I love the sweet and nuttiness to compliment the soup. You can also sprinkle chopped parsley and some spiced nuts on top.


Creamy Cream-less Chestnut Soup (inspired by Rachael Ray)

2 medium onions, diced
4 tablespoons butter
32 oz chicken stock
1/3 c dry sherry
1 can peeled chestnuts
2 cans chestnut puree
salt (generous!) to taste

1. Heat butter in large stockpot. Add onions and cook til softened and translucent. Add stock. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Add chestnuts and simmer 10 minutes. Add chestnut puree and simmer 10 minutes more. Using an immersion blender, puree ingredients til smooth. Season to taste and serve with garniture of your choice.

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