This time of year, chestnuts are on every street corner in New York City and memories of standing in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza conjures up the smoky sweet smell of those nuts that were served up in a plain brown bag. I roasted the chestnuts in my oven for this recipe but later found preroasted, peeled, organic chestnuts ready to go (of course!).
Depending on your time limit, either way is fine but the aroma of roasting chestnuts in your house helps with that Christmas spirit! (and that glass of wine….shhh). Chestnuts are naturally low-fat and high in water content making them guilt free which is so good at this time of year! Adding fennel seed and sherry to this soup gives it a nice sweetness to accompany the chestnuts. Serves two dinners or four appetizers. Here’s what you will need:
1 cup peeled roasted chestnuts chopped – extra for garnish
1 small onion diced
1 large carrot sliced
1/2 cup of lentils
2 stalks of celery sliced
1 leek chopped and washed well.
1/2 cup fresh spinach chopped (sneak in the greens when you can!)
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
4 tablespoons of sherry
2 tablespoons Olive oil with a little extra for drizzling on top
Sea salt and cracked pepper
To roast your chestnuts: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Score each chestnuts with a serrated knife. In a saucepan, cover nuts with cold water and a good pinch of salt and bring to a simmer. Drain. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 until tender. Place chestnuts in a bowl lined with a dish towel and cover for another 15 minutes. Peeling is easier when the chestnuts are still hot. Peel, chop and set aside.
Soup: In a medium heavy bottom soup pot, heat two tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté onion, carrot, leek, celery until soft, season with salt and pepper. Add fennel seeds and sherry and cook for another minute. Add broth, lentils and spinach, cook on medium heat until lentils are soft. Add chestnuts and heat through. With an emulsion blender or in small batches in a regular blender puree until smooth. Return to pot and heat. Serve topped with chestnuts and a drizzle of olive oil.
I served this for our soup and sandwich dinner this week along with the Sueben. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…..” Well, at least in the oven…or out of the bag…