Makes 4 cups - 4 to 6 servings
During the winter months, hot roasted chestnuts are sold by vendors on the boulevards of Paris, and the meaty nut is a popular ingredient in bistros around France. Canned chestnuts, available in many supermarkets and gourmet shops, are as rich and earthy as the fresh. No peeling and fussing, they're ready in minutes. I like to serve this soup cappuccino-style in small cups topped with foamy milk steamed using my espresso machine and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg. Or, you can top the servings with a fan of paper-thin apple slices.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
2 cups canned chicken stock or vegetable stock (prepare using stock concentrate, cubes or powder)
One 10-ounce can peeled chestnuts, drained
1 cup half-and-half or milk
¼ cup dry sherry
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Hot foamy milk and nutmeg, preferably freshly grated, for garnish
Heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the carrot, celery, and shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the stock.
In two batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth.
Pour the soup into the pan. Add the half-and-half and sherry. Stir gently over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste.
Serve the soup cappuccino-style in soup mugs or small, deep bowls topped with frothed milk and a dash of nutmeg.
Prepare this soup through the pureeing step; refrigerate in a covered container for up to 3 days. Reheat and add the half-and-half and sherry just before serving.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.