¾ lb chestnuts, or 7 oz. dried, soaked overnight in cold water
half stick butter
3 oz pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
The first thing to do is peel the chestnuts. There are several ways to go about this – the cookbook we were using suggested that you slit the shell along the rounded side, and then either cover in cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. I did not notice that it said to slit them beforehand, consequently several of them exploded in the oven. Ooops. Peeling them wasn’t as big of a pain as I expected, though it was slightly tedious.
Next, you’re probably gonna wanna chop your pancetta and vegetables (or you can do that while your chestnuts roast). Once everything is ready: melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the pancetta. Fry over medium heat until the fat runs. Add the onions, carrot, and celery and cook for 5-10 minutes, until they’ve softened. Add the chestnuts, rosemary, bay leaf and garlic and cover with water. Bring to a boil, half cover, and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the chestnuts disintegrate. Season with salt and pepper (we also grated a little parmesan in there).
This was a very tasty soup, and surprisingly flavorful, given that it was cooked with water, not stock. The rosemary really came through powerfully, it was great. Better Half loved it, but personally, I had some reservations. One, I thought it was a hair too salty. This may be because Better Half over-salted it at the end, or it may be the pancetta. Secondly, I thought it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi – I think maybe a touch of white wine could make the flavor a little more complex? Finally, I’d also wanna add some texture to it – I think it would be fantastic if there was some crunch in there, maybe with some croutons. Still, it was very tasty. We don’t make soup much, but now that it’s getting colder, they’re much more appealing.