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Roast Chestnut soup and Pearl balls

by on November 22, 2009

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!

IMG_9692Roast Chestnut soup

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.

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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.

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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.

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For this soup, you’ll need


1 teaspoon butter
1 medium onion, sliced
150 grams roasted chestnuts, chopped (about 12 nuts). You could also use vacuum-packed chestnuts but the flavour tends to be a bit ‘plasticcy’ and too sweet for me.
1 sage leave, rolled and ‘ragged (chiffonaded)’

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2 teaspoons of fresh lemon thyme leaves
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
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

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How to

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

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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.

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Serve, with slices of bread, a spoonful of creme fraiche (if using) and bacon bits.

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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!

Rice balls

(Adapted from Chinese Cooking for Beginners by Huang Su-Huei)



300g 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

How to

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.

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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.

IMG_4369Using a teaspoon dipped in water, scoop up spoonfuls and roll into balls.

IMG_4378When your meat balls are ready, roll them in the rice till they are completely coated.

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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)

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Steam over high heat for half and hour.

IMG_4388Remove 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!

IMG_4397I’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.

And have you every had pearl balls??? Do you know that you can colour the rice with food colouring….pink for girls and blue for boys 🙂
Pearl Balls on Foodista
Roast Chestnut Soup on Foodista[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Roast Chestnut soup and Pearl balls – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]