So, now that Sinterklaas is come and gone….at least till December 5th, I can get on with my life. And my Thanksgiving offerings. With joy too…because I found my sausage. Yes, serious. I bought it at the Italian stall at the Eten & Drinken 2010…and left it there. And I was a tad bit upset. Well…the owner contacted me and I can have it back so you’ll hear all about it soon.
On to business and no dilly dallying….2 recipes for you – to love or not!
The first time I made this was last christmas – I had a veggie friend coming round for lunch and I’d been desperately seeking a nice soup. And then the thought occured to me that making something with chestnuts wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. And so I googled and decided I would make it up….as I went along.
My first task was roasting the chestnuts and that I had to learn ’cause again, I didn’t grow up roasting chestnuts on an open fire.
And for this, I’ve devised formula. See chestnuts generally have two sides and two ends – a pointy top end and a flat bottom. The sides are generally one flat and one rounded side, though I have seen nuts with both sides flat…and some that are more or less round. Most shops often sell them packed so its quite difficult to handpick them and select good from not-so-good.
Anyhow, I generally wash and dry them before I use them.
Then I get out a chopping board and a sharp knife. I lay the flat side down and make a cross on the rounded side. This is to prevent the chestnuts from exploding. Why do I roast them? I love the flavour. I think that roasting accentuates the subtle, sweet taste. And the beauty is that though you’ll have to make crosses on many (and peel them), you could also quite easily cook up a whole batch and store in the fridge or freezer.
Then I place them on a tray and set them in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 200 degrees centigrade (400 degrees fahrenheit).
When they’re ready, the edges of the crosses curl backwards. Remove them from the oven and let them cool down for a couple of minutes before you peel them, being careful to rid them completely of the ‘tough’ internal skin. It’s amazing because I find that some batches are easier to peel than others. Anyhow, peel them and use as required.
For this soup, you’ll need‘ragged (chiffonaded)’
600ml water Salt and black pepper 2 carrots, peeled and chopped Optional to cook: fresh chilies
Optional to serve: creme fraiche and 125g bacon bits, desalted and fried Yield – 2 servings
Heat butter in a large saucepan. When melted, add the onions and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
Cook on low – medium heat for about 5 minutes, till onions just take on colour
Add the chestnuts, sage and 1 teaspoon of lemon thyme leaves and stir for a couple of minutes
Then add water and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes till the chestnuts are soft. Season well and blend with a handheld blender or in a food processor
Put back on the heat and add the other teaspoon of lemon thyme.If the soup is too thick, add some water to thin. Add the carrots and let cook on low heat till carrots are soft.
Serve, with slices of bread, a spoonful of creme fraiche (if using) and bacon bits.
I love the creamy,luxurious feel of the soup and the fact that you don’t need any stock (ignore the cubes in my photo above) or cream to make it flavoursome.
And you could also use it to soup, sauce or bake it. I also think it would go well with the pearl balls below!
Ingredients300g Minced pork 2 tablespoons water 1 teaspoon shasoshing wine or dry sherry 1/2 teaspoon of salt 2 tablespoons coriander (cilantro) stalks, chopped 1 tablespoon sliced spring onions
1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
Dash of pepper 1 cup glutinous rice 1 tablespoon cornstarch Yield: 15-18 balls
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear and then soak for an hour. Remove, rinse and drain in a sieve. Spread the rice on a flat plate and pat with a paper towel to remove the excess water.
Mix the pork with the water, wine, coriander, ginger, onions, salt and pepper and mix well to combine . Add the cornstarch and then mix. That’s your filling all done.
Prepare a steamer by lining with a damp cloth. Place the pearl balls in, about 2 cm apart (my steaming basket is quite small so the space between was a bit less than advised)
Steam over high heat for half and hour.
Remove and serve. I served mine with a passata made with ginger and coriander, though the chinese typically serve them with soy sauce. We had these for dinner and they were delicious. The meat filling was fragrant and tasty and the rice made it more than a snack. Saying that, the kids had 3 each and the hubby and I had 5. Next time, I’ll definitely make more. I also think they’d look great in a Bento!
I’ve dreamt about thought about making them with turkey mince but I haven’t been able to find any minced turkey in the shops and I don’t have a mincer so….here’s a reason to buy one. I guess I could chop up some turkey breast and spend an hour mincing it but….its just I keep tasting the sage and roast chestnuts….hmmm someday soon.
Have you made chestnut soup before? How do you like it.