Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chestnut Soup

I have recently fallen in love with a new comfort food.

Mrs. Nod and I had an unexpected treat at a snazzy little restaurant called Villa Mozart a month ago, when we ordered the Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup. It was a robust soup, full of creamy and earthy goodness, and with multiple taste accents dancing on the palate. It included a couple of whole chestnuts marinated in red wine at the bottom.

creamy mushroom chestnut soup

Ever since then I've been on the lookout for something similar to make at home. I think I've found it. It features a backbone of earthy mushrooms, chestnuts, and red bliss potatoes to which I added tender shallots and young parsnips.

Since I didn't have any "mushroom broth" I used organic chicken stock, half a cup of Merlot, and increased the cream to two full cups. I was lucky enough to have a neighbor give me fresh whole nutmeg which I grated into this heavenly dish along with fresh rosemary and sage. Fresh sage is in a word -- amazing.  I marinated some halved chestnuts in Merlot and put them in when serving.

Mrs. Nod smelled me cooking this and stayed up late just to have a bowl. It's that good.

Shamelessly ripped off from Food Blogga:

This Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup Is Like a Best Friend

Mushroom soup should be like a good friend-- there for you when you need it, full of understanding and comfort, and spicy enough to make you laugh. Consider this Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup a best friend. We met rather informally last fall in my kitchen while I was entertaining a number of other friends including tender red bliss potatoes, earthy chestnuts, and aromatic sage. We liked each other instantly, and our friendship has continued to grow.

I'm not a possessive person, so I'd like to introduce you to her.  She'll be one of the truest friends you've ever had. 

Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup
Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

Meaty, smoky chestnuts and savory fresh herbs add depth to an otherwise ordinary, creamy mushroom soup. Use bottled, dried, or -- if you're up for the challenge -- freshly roasted chestnuts. For a richer soup, I suggest using cream; 2% milk is best if you're looking to save calories.

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced shallots
1 cup diced celery
2 1/2 cups peeled, diced red bliss potatoes (about 3)
8 cups mixed mushrooms, cremini and white button (about 2 1/2 pounds)
4 cups mushroom broth
8 ounces cooked chestnuts (about 20)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup cream
fresh sage, rosemary, and chopped chestnuts for optional garnish

1. Warm 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. Add shallots and celery, and sauté 3-5 minutes. Add potatoes and mushrooms, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until mushrooms have released most of their liquid. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add chestnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper, and cream. Turn off heat, and let cool for 10 minutes before pureeing.

2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth; return to the pot over low heat. Stir occasionally until the soup is thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes. Just prior to serving, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter for added creaminess and depth of flavor. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Garnish individual bowls with fresh herbs and chopped chestnuts, if desired.

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