…Autumn days mean everything becomes gold and red …the morning and evening sun has spikes of jewel like colour and the moon holds a red halo wrapped tightly around her, declaring the mist and frost of the night. Harvest is done and the pantry is stocked, chestnuts gifted by friends await their transformation into ‘maroni’ or into an interesting nutty-spiced soup with a kick that I’ve yet to try …but soon I think!
Tiny bright red strawberries still flourish and the last raspberries are ripening. So much colour; I’m greedy to drink it all in …my favourite time of year is right now this moment and the next…
…the ghost of autumn lingers on …the scratching of leaves …a whispered bird song …but she waits in the night …breathe her scent, feel her might, …in the lightning storm …at the cold edge of dawn, …in the rumbling thunder …hold your breath don’t go under; …for fear’s not the way …it will flee before day …winter’s here …so is She …where the frost giants play
Chestnut and Sherry Soup
- 1 3/4 pounds fresh chestnuts
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 whole sprigs thyme
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 1/4 cups white wine
- 1 1/4 cups dry sherry
- 2 quarts plus 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For truffle garnish:
- 2/3 cup truffle juice
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 4 teaspoons chives, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Using chestnut knife or sharp paring knife, make large X on flat side of each chestnut through shell but not meat. Soak chestnuts in bowl of warm water to cover by 2 inches for 15 minutes; drain well. Arrange chestnuts in 1 layer in shallow baking pan, then roast in middle of oven until shells curl away at X mark, about 15 minutes. Wearing protective gloves, peel away shells from chestnuts while still hot. In large pot boiling water, blanch chestnuts 2 minutes, then drain. Using kitchen towel, rub chestnuts to remove skins. Coarsely chop and reserve.
In large stock pot over moderately high heat, heat butter until melted. Add garlic, shallots, leeks, and celery and sauté until very soft, about 8 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf, and chestnuts. Cook, stirring occasionally until chestnuts are golden brown and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Add white wine and bring to boil, then reduce until no liquid remains, 15 to 18 minutes. Add 3/4 cup sherry and bring to boil, then reduce until almost no liquid remains, about 10 minutes. Add stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to moderately low and continue cooking until chestnuts fall apart very easily, about 1 1/2 hours (If chestnuts are not completely cooked, the finished soup will be gritty.) Remove from heat and remove thyme and bay leaf. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup sherry and honey. Working in batches, transfer to blender and blend until smooth. Strain through fine-mesh strainer into clean pot. Stir in salt and pepper and keep warm.
Make truffle garnish:
In heavy 2-quart pot over moderately high heat, bring truffle juice to boil, then lower heat and reduce by 1/4, about 5 minutes. Add butter and sherry and continue cooking until butter is melted, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk until frothy, about 2 minutes. (Alternatively, use hand blender to froth.) Stir in chives, salt, and pepper.
Divide soup into shallow soup bowls. Place 1 tablespoon truffle garnish in center of each bowl. Serve immediately.
Maroni …Chestnut Paste
- 1 3/4 pounds raw chestnuts
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- To roast the chestnuts: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut an “X” into the flat side of each chestnut shell. Place chestnuts in a single layer on a sheet pan with a lip. Roast until shells begin to peel back, about 15-20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes to cool. Peel shells and let chestnuts cool completely.
- To make the sweetened chestnut puree: In a medium saucepan, bring chestnuts, sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25-35 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Strain the chestnuts, reserving the liquid. Blend chestnuts in a food processor until smooth. Slowly add as much syrup as necessary to make the desired consistency through the food chute while the processor is running. Let cool completely before refrigerating.
It may be time-consuming but the resulting chestnut paste is delicious and can be used in desserts, cakes and biscuits…
…and then there’s the pumpkin harvest …oh yessss …wonderful things can be done with them …apart from carving the out and creating scary faces to chase away the spirits of winter to come…
..blessings from Beyond the Gate …Penny