Chestnut Bisque

2016 Recipe No. 45

Man, chestnuts are the worst! They taste great and can lend themselves to all sorts of recipes in a way that no other nut can. But they are an absolute pain to get out of their shells to work with. Almost at the end of my yearlong cooking challenge and I managed to score my first injury by scoring a fingertip.

Because of that, I will think long and hard about working with chestnuts in the future, but I will say that they made for a pretty unique bisque.

The flavor of this soup was spot on. Rich and creamy and earthy like a good nut-based soup should be. The texture wasn’t as excellent, with the results coming out a little chunkier than I would’ve liked. Still, it made for a good enough and hard earned winter meal.

Thing I Learned #1 – Marjoram is an amazing complement to chestnuts, but if you can’t find it, substitute thyme.

The Process

Roast the chestnuts, or actually, boil them in water to soften. Score the shell, boil away, remove shell, and let soak in milk.

Sautee onion and celery, then add the chestnuts and milk. Then chicken stock.

Add seasoning and herbs. Let it boil for 30-45 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a food processor or blender, then puree it up.

Put it back over the stove and stir in some heavy cream. Scoop it up and garnish, and then you’re all set.

Ingredients

1 celery stalk
1/2 of an onion
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
2 pounds of chestnuts
2 1/2 cups of chicken stock

1 teaspoon of sage
1 teaspoon of bay leaf
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of milk

Chives
Fried Pork Rinds
Salt
Pepper

Thing I Learned #2 – Chestnuts are surprisingly versatile, given how hard they are to work with. In addition to a puree for soup they can also be made into flour for breads and cakes, thickeners, or doughnut fritters.

Step-By-Step

  1. Score the chestnuts
  2. Simmer chestnuts in water
  3. Remove chestnut shell and skin
  4. Soak chestnuts in milk
  5. Sautee the onion and celery in the olive oil and butter for 8 minutes
  6. Add the chestnuts and milk
  7. Pour over chicken stock
  8. Add bay leaf, thyme, and sage
  9. Add salt and pepper
  10. Boil soup for 30-45 minutes
  11. Remove loose whole herbs
  12. Use a blender or food processor to puree the soup
  13. Return to stove and stir in heavy cream
  14. Top with chives and pork rind
Thing I Learned #3 – More surprising historical uses for the chestnut? Its juice has been fermented, resulting in a granular sugar as well as a beer. Chestnuts have also been roasted in a way that substitutes them for coffee beans.

Serving This Sucker

I decided that a salty pork product of some sort would be the best compliment to the flavor of the chestnuts, and what do you know? A fried pork rind sure looks pretty on top, with some green onions to boot

In The Future

This dish was such a pain. Literally. We’ll see what it takes before I have at it again.

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