One of the vendors at my local Kempen market is selling fresh chestnuts from France. Chestnut season usually lasts from October to December. It’s not uncommon to see street vendors in various cities selling roasted chestnuts. Typically served in a brown paper bag, perhaps 6 or 7 chestnuts, they are enormously expensive. Last week I purchased one kilo for around €6 and decided to roast them at home. When purchasing them look for tight, shiny skins with no wrinkles. They should feel heavy in your hand.
Chestnuts are delicious. They fill my mouth with a umami sweetness. There is nothing to describe the taste other than some sort of marzipanish-ness.
Here’s how you roast and peel them….
Score an “X” in the chestnut on it’s flat side–the tip of a paring knife works well
Then place the chestnuts into a pan, cover with water and let them boil for 20 minutes. You’ll see the X starting to curl. Drain well and place all the chestnuts on a baking sheet. Roast at 350F/170C for 15-20 minutes. No longer or they get “mealy”.
Now it’s easy to peel them. Be careful when handling hot chestnuts!
It would’ve been easy to eat them all – they’re almost bite sized. Some people caramelise them and eat them like candy. Chestnuts have an interesting flavour profile. They pair with lemon and parsely, squash and sage, beets and balsamic vinegar. They are pair with apples, black sesame seeds, raspberries, rum, ginger, cognac, carrots and sherry. With apples in mind I opted to make a soup since my Sous Chef loves soups.
Oil-Free Chestnut Cauliflower Soup – Thermomix method below
5oz/150 grams peeled chestnuts, reserve one for garnish
1 whole head of cauliflower, broken into florets
2.5cups/550ml oat milk (or unsweetened plant milk of choice)
salt and pepper to taste
Steam or boil cauliflower until tender. Drain. Add to food processor and blitz with the chestnuts, water and milk until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it seems too thick then add more milk to thin. Reheat before serving. Using a microplane, grate the remaining chestnut for the garnish. Or, if time permits, use the apple-black sesame garnish* pictured below.
TMX users: Blitz the cauliflower in the bowl until it’s in smallish pieces then add the water and milk. Cook on 100C for 9 minutes speed spoon setting. When the cauliflower is tender, add the chestnuts and puree 5 seconds speed 8, or until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add more milk if it seems to thick. Garnish as above with remaining chestnut.
Apple+black sesame seed garnish – with your smallest julienne blade, spiralize a washed, unpeeled (organic) apple. Gently place on soup with black sesame seeds. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
From my Kempen kitchen with love!