Most chestnut soups are fairly substantial. We've made our version lighter and
brothier to serve as a first course for a big meal. Chopped chestnuts mixed with
tangy croutons add texture and extra layers of complexity.
2 (7 1/2-oz) jars peeled cooked whole chestnuts, rinsed and drained (2 2/3 cups)
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped (1 1/4 cups)
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1 1/2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
2 1/2 qt water
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry or Madeira
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 sourdough loaf, crust discarded and bread cut into 1/4-inch cubes (4 cups)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
2 (7 1/2-oz) jars peeled cooked whole chestnuts, chopped (2 2/3 cups)
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (preferably Maldon)
Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.
Spread chestnuts in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan, then roast in oven
until dry and slightly darkened, about 20 minutes.
While chestnuts roast, wash leeks in
a bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and drain well.
Heat oil and butter in a 5- to
6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté
leeks, onion, celery, carrots, and bay leaves, stirring occasionally, until
vegetables are pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add chestnuts and tamari and cook,
stirring, until most of liquid is evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add water (2 1/2
quarts) and salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables
are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and sage.
Discard bay leaves.
Purée soup in 3 batches in a blender
until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to a bowl.
Pour purée through a medium-mesh sieve into cleaned pot, pressing hard on and
then discarding solids. Bring soup to a simmer and stir in Sherry, pepper, and
salt to taste, then remove from heat.
Make topping while soup simmers:
Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until
foam subsides, then cook bread cubes with sage, turning occasionally, until
croutons are golden, 6 to 10 minutes. Add chestnuts and cook, stirring, 2
minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with sea salt.
Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle
each serving with about 1/3 cup topping.
• Topping can be made 3 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an
airtight container at room temperature. Reheat in 1 layer on a baking sheet in a
350°F oven until bread is crisp, 10 to 20 minutes.
• Soup, without Sherry, can be made 3 days ahead and cooled completely,
uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat and stir in Sherry before serving.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.