Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chestnut Soup with Bacon and Thyme Croutons

For some reason I recently became obsessed with the notion of cooking chestnuts. Not sure why particularly. I'd seen them around in the fruit and veg shops I guess, and was becoming more curious. And really wanted to give it a try. Then I remembered this recipe in my Delia Smith Soups book. I decided several years ago that I wanted to make so many of the recipes in this book, that I would make it my project to cook them all. There's been some great surprises along the way and it's taking a bit longer than I really expected- but then doesn't every project?

So, I armed myself with some chestnuts, and set to work.

Delia has thoughtfully provided the recipe online. I couldn't find any thyme for love nor money in my small town this week. Well, I gave up after 2 supermarkets and a fruit and veg shop. And made do without. So I really made Chestnut Soup with Bacon Croutons.

I decided that I would make stock for this soup, as I really wasn't sure that I'd like a chestnut soup, and wanted at least a good flavour base. Delia suggested either ham or vegetable stock. As I hadn't got myself organised to get a ham bone, I made vegetable stock. Making stock always seems so totally virtuous, even though for vegetable stock you roughly chop some veggies, cut a couple of bay leaves off the tree, and count out 12 peppercorns. Not very hard.

but worth it

So, how did the soup turn out? Better than I was expecting actually. Although, I'm not sure I knew what to expect at all. This being somewhat beyond my ken. It was thicker than I was expecting, which I think was body given to it by the chestnut flesh. I'm not sure that chestnut has a strong enough flavour to dominate anything- our local bacon is quite a powerful taste.

It is a bit of an unappealing colour, as many of Delia's winter soups have been actually. A bit dishwatery. Which is a shame. The nonsoup lovers in the house ate it, the adult one with reasonable enthusiasm, the 10 year old less so. But some minor bribery with strawberry jelly worked a treat. I'm not sure if I'd make it again. The whole chestnut process was rather lengthy and traumatic. Perhaps if we had easier access to packaged chestnuts? But then cooking them yourself adds to the appeal and the adventure of it all. 

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a fabulous weekly meme at Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Hi!
    Sounds like a great cooking experience. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  2. There's something so disappointing about expending lots of effort on a dish that end up *looking* terrible. That said, I love chestnuts enough that I happily would've eaten your leftovers :)

  3. Thanks Sherrie. I do always like trying new ingredients- and new soup recipes!

    Thanks Hannah. The colour was disappointing. Still it did taste nice. I would have enjoyed your opinion, as I am rather a chestnut novice. I ate the leftovers for lunch at work one day, and it was warming and filling, so it did it's job. The chestnut part would get easier each time I guess. I don't love them yet, but always like to increase the variety of what we eat- especially the next generation.

  4. Nothing wrong with canned or jarred chestnuts. Sorry the color wasn't great.

    I'm jealous that you have a bay tree!

  5. Too bad about the color. Looks very good to me, love the toppings!

  6. Beth- bay trees are very easy to grow. Ours started out as a small little bush, and now is a rather large tree- maybe 8 foot high. I never had success where we used to live, the possums used to shred the leaves off them. We haven't got any possums too close here, and it's grown beautifully. We get snow and frost and it doesn't hurt it one bit.

    Thanks Carol- the toppings were delicious, especially with leftovers the next day, and the croutons were really crispy and crunchy.

  7. I think I would be tempted to go with prepared chestnuts also.

  8. The preprepared chestnuts aren't very easy to find here in Australia Heather. I was only looking at some more chestnuts yestserday, but I didn't buy any as yet.

  9. I also like soup especially noodle soup. In the Philippines, we have soup using "sotanghon", which is the same as vermicelli, or silver noodles.
    Chicken , shrimps or pork can be added. I like seafood. It is available in processed dried noodles similar to Top Ramen.