Photo copyright © 2001 by John A. Rizzo
Roasted chestnuts are a winter’s treat. Although peeling 2 pounds of chestnuts seems tedious, it can be done up to 2 weeks in advance. The peeled roasted chestnuts can be frozen, and then thawed at room temperature for 1 hour before using.
- 2 pounds fresh chestnuts (about 2½ cups peeled; see Cook’s Notes)
- 2 large yellow onions (about 12 ounces each), cut into ½-inch thick wedges
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into1-inch chunks
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cups Chicken Stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, wiped or brushed clean, stems trimmed, and thinly sliced (see Cook’s Notes)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
How to make it XX minutes
Preheat the oven to 440°F. Using a sharp paring knife, make a long slash on the flat side of each chestnut, cutting through the outer shell and inner brown skin. Place chestnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Every 15 minutes, sprinkle the chestnuts with a little water.
While the chestnuts are roasting, place the onions and carrots in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss the vegetables so they are thoroughly coated. Roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Let cool while you peel the chestnuts.
Peel the chestnuts while they are still quite warm, but cool enough to handle. Using a sharp paring knife, remove the outer shell as well as inner brown skin. Discard any chestnuts that look rotten. Set aside chestnuts that are hard to peel and rewarm in a 400°F oven; or place on a paper towel and rewarm in a microwave for 45 seconds on high. Repeat if necessary.
Combine the chestnuts and roasted vegetables in a medium mixing bowl. Place one-fourth of the mixture in a blender or in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add 2 cups of the stock. Process until the purée is uniformly coarse rather than smooth in texture. Pour into a 4-quart saucepan. Repeat 3 more times with the remaining chestnut and vegetable mixture and the stock. Add the salt and a few grinds of pepper to taste.
Heat to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Add the cream, stir to combine, and remove from the heat. Taste and add more salt or pepper if desired. Keep the soup warm while you make the mushroom garnish, or cool and refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days prior to serving.
To make the mushroom garnish: Melt the butter in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, raise the heat to high, and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the thyme and parsley and sauté until the liquids evaporate and the mushrooms are lightly browned, 2 minutes longer. Set aside until ready to serve. This garnish can be made up to 2 hours in advance. Rewarm just before serving.
Ladle soup into heated bowls, and mound a spoonful of mushrooms in the center of each bowl. Serves 12.
If you prefer not to roast your own chestnuts, you can buy peeled chestnuts in vacuum-sealed packages, cans, or bottles at specialty-food stores. Drain any liquid in which they are packed. Prepared chestnuts are usually boiled rather than roasted, resulting in a bit of flavor loss. However, placing them on a rimmed baking sheet and roasting them for 15 minutes really improves their flavor.
If you can’t find shiitake or other interesting mushrooms, use the brown mushrooms called “cremini” found in most supermarkets. Use white button mushrooms as a last resort!
Excerpted from The Thanksgiving Table: Recipes and Ideas to Create Your Own Holiday Tradition by Diane Morgan. Text copyright © 2001 by Diane Morgan. Photos copyright © 2001 by John A. Rizzo.