Friday, January 2, 2015

Chestnut Soup with Cheddar Puffs

Chestnuts are a typical winter holiday ingredient, particularly, in the Mediterranean cuisine. They have become popular and available all over the world, already precooked or roasted. So today, I want to share a recipe for an easy, yet sophisticated and tasty chestnut soup that can be served at an elegant dinner party.

It combines elements from three different recipes, which I tested to match the right ingredients. I think the final result is very good. The soup itself is easy and can be made a day ahead. But I think that what makes this soup truly delicious are the home made cheddar puffs spiced with rosemary, which accompany the soup and add the extra sharpness and flavor to its slightly sweet taste.

Home made puffs may seem difficult to make but in fact they are not. The pastry is cooked quickly in a pot and later baked in an oven. They also can be frozen and served cold or gently warmed up.

Chestnut Soup with Cheddar Puffs

The Soup

1 cup cooked or roasted and peeled chestnuts,
2 small shallots chopped,
2 celery sticks, sliced,
2 tbsp olive oil,
1 cup of half-and-half or whole milk,
32 oz (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy duty pot. Add shallots and sliced celery and fry for about 3 minutes. Add chopped chestnuts and cook together for 2 minutes.

2. Pour in half-and-half or milk, cover the pot with a lid, and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Finally, add the stock and simmer the soup on on a low heat for 15-20 minutes.
4. Purée the soup using a food processor or a blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Cheddar-Rosemary Puffs

1 cup flour all purpose,
1 stick unsalted butter,
1/2 tsp salt,
4 large eggs,
1 cup grated cheddar,
1/2 tsp baking powder.
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves.

1. Preheat an oven to 400 F. Grease a large baking form with butter.
2. In a medium pot boil a cup of water with a stick of butter and salt. Reduce the heat and quickly sift in flour, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes.

3. Remove the pot from the heat and cool slightly then add eggs beating well between each addition.
4. Stir in grated cheddar and chopped rosemary. Using a soup spoon scoop the dough puff by puff and place on the form.

5. Bake the puffs for about 30 minutes until they rise and become gold.
Serve them warm or at least in room temperature.

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