When I saw a packet of fresh chestnuts at a fruit shop last week for half the price as usual, I had to buy some. I have never ever eaten a chestnut before! I have always wanted to. I looked up instructions on the web for how to roast chestnuts, and most instructions were pretty much the same - cut an x in the top of the nuts, spread them in a single layer with the x facing up on a baking tray, and cook at 190 degrees C for about 30 minutes or until they look a bit like this:
Oh, they smelled good. (I tried one raw and it was strange, but quite tasty, however apparently if you eat a lot of raw chestnuts they can give you a stomach ache).
Then comes the difficult and time consuming part, the part that makes me not to want to buy them ever again...the peeling. As you can see in the above picture, a couple of nuts came out whole but most of it is a mushy mess. That's because I didn't actually roast them long enough, and they were too hard to peel and therefore we had to squeeze out the flesh! My thumbs were bleeding.
But the soup I chose to make with them was completely worth it. I knew I had come across a few recipes on Allotment 2 Kitchen using chestnuts before so I went there first to see what I felt like.
I chose the Lentil and Chestnut Soup. I made a couple of substitutions - I used fresh chestnuts instead of tinned (I ended up with 200g of pulp from 500g nuts) and I had no fennel seeds so I chucked in some dried marjoram (it was the first thing I saw!) I also used a few sprigs of fresh thyme from my garden istead of dried. And I had a 1/4 green cabbage going brown in the fridge so I chucked that in too.
We served it alongside toasted sourdough, which was unecessary as this soup is very hearty and filling! I suppose I COULD have used smaller bowls...
It was really unlike anything we have ever tasted before. The chestnuts added a sweet, almost meaty taste to the soup, and I enjoyed every mouthful! It was a pretty good birthday dinner. :)
I probably will end up buying chestnuts again, as they come more into season. I'll just be prepared for hurt thumbs, or just cook them longer and cut bigger x's. Are there such thing as Australian grown chestnuts? I forgot to read the label at the fruit shop, I was too excited, haha.