Recipes - Vegetarian

Chestnut soup with pumpkin or parsnips

As a child growing up in England I had hours of fun playing ‘Conkers’. Conkers is a game that involves tying a piece of string to a horse chestnut (or conker) and then smashing the conker of your opponent. The two players take turns until one player’s conker breaks. The first game apparently took place back in 1848 and even today I’d be surprised to hear of conkers being wiped out by iPhones and other gadgets.

Chestnut soup with pumpkin or parsnipsThe conker comes from the horse chestnut tree; a tree that’s found in abundance all over the UK. Here in Sydney, 17,000 km away, our chestnuts are even more useful – because they’re edible. The chestnut season in Australia runs from March to June. So a couple of weeks ago I bought a big bag at my local farmers market and decided to share some chestnut love here. Before sharing the soup recipe itself I wanted to talk about the nutritional content of chestnuts and how to prepare them.

Chestnut soup with pumpkin or parsnipsNutritional information

Chestnuts unlike other nuts contain very little fat or oil. They are:

  • Made up of low GI carbohydrates ( 32.1g per 100g)
  • Packed with fibre (14.9g per 100g)
  • Very low on sugar
  • Gluten free

They store well in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

The 3 steps to prepare chestnuts 

1. Cut: Place the chestnut on its flat side and cut or score half way around the nut, piercing both the outer shell and inner skin (use a sharp knife).

2. Cook: You have a few options:

  • Roast/bake – cook chestnuts in the oven at 200C until the shells open along the cut (around 15 minutes).
  • Microwave – place a single layer of chestnuts in a covered container on high (850 watts) for 2-3 minutes until the shells opens and the flesh is soft.
  • Boil/steam – add chestnuts to a pan of cold water or a steamer, cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until shells open.

3. Peel: Use a tea towel to wrap the cooked chestnuts. After a few minutes (while they’re still hot) peel off the outer shell and inner skin.

RECIPE – Chestnut soup with pumpkin or parsnips

Pumpkin and chestnut soupSoup is a classic and easy way to hero chestnuts in an Autumn or Winter dish. And chestnuts pair perfectly with pumpkin and parsnips. I choose to make chestnut pumpkin soup, but whether you use pumpkin or parsnips the quantities here serve 2-4 people.

  • 300g chestnuts peeled – prepared as per the 3 steps above (equates 500g unpeeled)
  • 300g chopped parsnips OR 300g cubed pumpkin (ideally butternut pumpkin)
  • 40g butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Couple of celery stalks, chopped
  • 1-2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (depending on how thick you like your soup)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 100ml to 200ml cream or natural yoghurt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp fresh herbs chopped – parsley and/or sage

Chestnut soup with pumpkin or parsnips

Chestnut soup with pumpkin or parsnipsMethod

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan and sauté the onions and celery.
  2. Add all of the other ingredients except the cream/yogurt and bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the chestnuts and pumpkin/parsnips are soft and tender.
  4. Process to a purée with a food processor. Check the seasoning and add more salt/pepper as needed.
  5. Add the cream or yoghurt and reheat the soup to serve.

Optional – reserve a few chopped chestnuts and/or some extra fresh herbs for garnishing

Pumpkin and chestnut soupAnd just in case you want to know more about chestnuts here are some common chestnut varieties:

  • Red Spanish and Buffalo Queen varieties – better boiled/steamed than roasted
  • Purton’s Pride – all-purpose, easy to peel
  • De Coppi Marone – easy to peel, rich and sweet flavour

I’d love to hear your favourite chestnut recipes…..

By Laura (Feast Wisely)

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8 thoughts on “Chestnut soup with pumpkin or parsnips

  1. What a wonderful autumn soup! We have chestnut trees all over our city and I always love the fall when you can find loads of chestnuts on the ground. I’m not sure if they are edible or not!

    • Thanks so much – yes I love the flavour of chestnuts – not sure if your local ones would be edible – perhaps try and find out the name of the tree….you could always play a game of conkers if not!

  2. I have so many fond memories of chestnuts… both the ‘conker’ kind (as an English girl myself, though I’ve been in Australia longer than England now!) and the edible kind, scored and chucked into the fireplace at my grandparent’s house in Staines. We’d scrape out the blackened shells with barbecue tongs to unearth the steaming, delicious roasted interior. I LOVE them. So many good memories!!! I actually have a few in the refrigerator right now, my mum bought them from a market a couple of weeks ago. You’ve inspired me to actually make something with them, rather than just roasting them to eat on their own. Loved reading your memories too 🙂 xx

    • Thanks Laura – and you’ve inspired me now to do the opposite and eat them on their own. I also love them in stuffing with sage and pork mince……and I recently saw a recipe for chestnut and beetroot soup from Neil Perry which looked interesting!

  3. I love the smell of roasted chestnuts (and the flavor too!), but I’ve never try cooking them before…now I think I will try! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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