While cycling in the Pyrenees, I found about two kilos of sweet chestnuts. I took them home and made them into the tastiest soup I’ve ever eaten. Read on to find out how easy it is to make chestnut and parsnip soup.
Ingredients: Two kilos of sweet chestnuts, 4 large parsnips, about a litre of chicken stock, a tub of Crème fraîche salt and pepper, a teaspoonful of cumin.
Rinse the chestnuts to get rid of any dirt and bugs, then boil them for about 20 minutes, until they are soft inside.
Cut them in half with a sharp knife and scoop out the insides. Warning – don’t try and peel them with your nails. I got a blackened thumbnail thanks to a piece of chestnut shell going underneath my nail.
There was one old man in my local market in France that sold parsnips and it probably won’t be too long before he’s pushing up parsnips rather than harvesting them. They are, inexplicably, not common at all in France – in fact many French people have never heard of ‘panais’. Peel them, chop them into pieces and boil them for about 15 minutes then add the pieces of chestnut.
Use an electric hand blender to make the soup smoother. Don’t worry if there are still lumps in it – that will give the soup texture. If it is too thick, add some more of the chicken stock. Note that the soup will ‘spit’ so keep it covered while it simmers.
And that’s it. Very simple and astoundingly delicious. Serve the soup with fresh brown bread and butter. It’s a rich soup so don’t make the portions too large.
Top tip – If you haven’t got any chestnuts, make the same soup with pieces of chicken. It’s almost as good.