A Bitten Word Recipe
We wanted to make at least one original dish for our Thanksgiving meal this year. Looking through our stash of food magazines, we noticed a definite scarcity of soups. There were only two soup recipes in all ten of our magazines.
So we decided to make up a soup!
Once we started thinking soup, we quickly started thinking chestnuts. Chestnut soup is rich and silky, and the nutty autumn flavor makes an excellent addition to a Thanksgiving menu.
But we wanted to pair it with something a little different. What could we pair it with? What would make a nice pair...? What to pair, what to pair? Hmm...pair...pairs....
Honestly, we have no idea where we came up with the idea for this soup.
We thought the sweet flavor of pears would be a delicious complement to the chestnuts. And they were!
If you want to roast and peel your own fresh chestnuts, we support you! We've done it ourselves. But if you want to save yourself more than an hour of prep time (and several cuts to your fingertips), you can buy jars of whole roasted chestnuts. The jars ain't cheap, though: Each 14.8 ounce jar will run you about $14. You could get the same amount of fresh chestnuts for a fourth of that. So if you have time and want to save money, fresh is the way to go.
We kept this soup fairly simple to let the flavor of the chestnuts and the pears shine through. Chestnuts are so creamy and rich, you don't need to add any cream to the soup -- it's plenty thick and rich on its own.
Warm, rich, nutty and comforting, this bisque is a great little bowlful of nice autumnal flavors -- and a great starter for Thanksgiving dinner.
Chestnut Pear Bisque
A Recipe from TheBittenWord.com
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 tablespoons thyme, chopped, plus more for garnish
2 pounds chestnuts (see note)
3 medium pears, such as Bosc, peeled, cored and diced
32 ounces chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
NOTE: If using fresh, raw chestnuts, soak them in warm water for 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain the chestnuts and pat dry. Using a paring knife, score the flat side of each chestnut with an "x," cutting all the way through the shell. Roast in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, "x"-side up, until tender, about 25 minutes. Peel while still warm, removing both the outer shell and the inner skin. Spoon nutmeat out of shells into a bowl; discard the shells and skins.
If you don't want to deal with roasting and peeling the chestnuts, you can use 2 14.8-ounce jars of whole roasted chestnuts, such as Minerve.
Heat oil in a medium stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and celery, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add pears and sauté, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 5 more minutes. Add chestnuts and continue sautéing until chestnuts begin to break down, about 8 more minutes. Add stock and increase to high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 40 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Using an immersion blender or an upright blender, puree soup until smooth. (If using an upright blender, work in batches and be sure to leave the top hole of the blender lid open, allowing the steam to escape. Otherwise, the soup will explode out of the blender.)
Soup can be served immediately or stored, in a sealed container in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Reheat on stove top over low heat.
Garnish with additional chopped thyme and serve.