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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lentil & Chestnut Soup



While the chestnuts weren't roasted over an open fire for this recipe, they add wonderful texture and the slightest hint of sweetness to this festive Lentil & Chestnut Soup. No cream or pureeing here, this vegan soup is a tasty combination of humble root vegetables, brown lentils, and luxurious chestnuts.

I took the easy road and used Minerve Chestnuts in Water ($6 at Whole Foods) rather than boiling and peeling fresh chestnuts (a laborious job, I'm told). They are simply chopped and sauted in olive oil with oregano and thyme, then excited with tangy marinara sauce.

The recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. I didn't fancy the fennel Madison used to flavor her soup, so I skipped it. I also added potato, a lot more garlic, skipped the celery in favor of more carrots (hate cooked celery), added marinara in place of tomato paste, and added some soy sauce to develop the final flavor.

I was a little anxious about the sweetness of the chestnuts, not being big on sweet with savory, but they are deliciously mild and work brilliantly with the lentils.

Lentil & Chestnut Soup (adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen):

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced small
1 large potato, peeled and diced small
3-4 carrots, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup lentils (I used basic brown)
5-6 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
salt & pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce


10 oz can chestnuts in water, drained and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of thyme
pinch of oregano
1/3 cup marinara sauce

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and fry the onions for 3 minutes. Add the potato, carrots, and 2 of the garlic cloves. Stir well, cover, and cook 5-6 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking. Add the water, lentils, bay leaf, thyme and oregano. Add salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for 20-40 minutes (depending on the type of lentils) until the lentils are tender.

While the soup is simmering, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the chopped chestnuts. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the thyme and oregano. Cook 2 more minutes, then add the marinara. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chestnut mixture to the soup, along with the soy sauce and two remaining minced garlic cloves. Cook together for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped parsley, cook 1 more minute and serve.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how you fiddled with Madison's recipe to make it your own. Sounds like something I'd do.
Imagine: Chestnut soup!!

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate fennel and celery, and I'm in love with lentils at the moment, so you adapted the recipe perfectly for me. It looks really delicious!

8:09 PM  
Anonymous kathryn said...

What a good idea to buy canned chestnuts, I didn't even know they existed. However, if they're available in Australia, I'm sure my local Italian deli will have them. In our winter I bought some fresh chestnuts to convert into Chestnut and Thyme soup, but found them a real battle to boil and peel and then half of them were bad anyway - so it was a very unsatisfactory experience. However, I'll hunt out tinned chestnuts - as this recipe looks lovely.

Just one question . . . I do love fennel, so can I just check - was it fresh fennel or fennel seed in the original recipe? Cheers in advance Catherine.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The soup looks very good. Happy Holidays!

4:26 AM  
Anonymous Tanna said...

Catherine thank you so much. I'm always fiddling with recipes and this is so neat to see how somebody else does it too. Love the soup. My mom has always put chestnuts into our turkey dressing and one year I put lentils in also.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Guinchogirl said...

I love chestnuts but I've never tried them in a soup before. This soup sounds delicious and nutritious, I can't wait to try it.

Sarah
EatingBritain.com

4:57 PM  
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Anonymous Talia Gold said...

This soup is so superb! I made it over the weekend and my husband asked me to make some more during the week because he was sure he would finish it by mid-week! I love the warm, hearty texture of the chestnuts mixed with the potatoes and carrots. Just terrific!

2:20 PM  

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