Am I the only one who waits to buy their chestnuts until they go on post-holiday sale in January? I love Williams-Sonoma’s steamed French chestnuts that are packaged in a jar, but they are SO expensive (most of the cheaper packaged chestnuts you’ll see in stores are imported from China). And living in NYC, sorry but I’m not about to roast a bunch of chestnuts over an open fire. Just not gonna happen.
So this year as usual I stocked up on my half-price WS chestnuts a few days after Christmas. Even though the holidays are over it’s not too late — there’s still a long stretch of winter ahead of us, and chestnuts are wonderful in so many wintry dishes, from stuffing to soup to cake to the famous marrons glacé (candied chestnuts — which I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to making, but the possibility is always there…).
For my first chestnut cooking adventure of 2017 I went with a soup, pairing the sweet, nutty chestnuts with earthy roasted cauliflower, the usual aromatics (onion, celery, garlic), and a pinch of herbs de Provence. The soup is rich, earthy, hearty, and very satisfying on a cold winter day. For a bright, punchy element I swirled each bowl with parsley-lemon oil, and a scattering of crispy sprouted pumpkin seeds and my two-tone gomasio adds crunch and a savory-salty finish.
Chestnut and roasted cauliflower soup with lemon-parsley oil
Gluten-free, Grain-Free, Dairy-free, Vegan-adaptable Paleo and Whole30-friendly
Serves 4 to 6
1 medium head cauliflower (about 1 pound untrimmed), core and leaves removed, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
salt and black pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
1 cup steamed or roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped
3 to 4 cups broth of your choice (I used homemade chicken bone broth; use vegetable broth for a vegan version)
Parsley-Lemon Oil (see below)
pumpkin seeds, for garnish
gomasio, for seasoning/garnish
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Place cauliflower on baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss to combine. Spread out in a single layer and roast until cauliflower is tender and browned around the edges, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over a medium-low flame. Add onion, celery, garlic, herbes de Provence and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until onions are soft and beginning to caramelize, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add chestnuts and cook for another couple of minutes.
Set aside about 1/4 cup of the cauliflower florets to use as a garnish. Scrape remaining roasted cauliflower into soup pot. Add enough broth to cover the vegetables (I used about 3-1/2 cups). Simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender (or regular stand blender) to your desired texture. If soup is too thick, stir in another 1/2 cup of the broth and reheat over low heat for a few minutes.
Ladle soup into warmed bowls and garnish with Parsley-Lemon Oil (recipe below), reserved cauliflower florets (cut into smaller pieces if large), pumpkin seeds, and gomasio or a pinch of flaky salt.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, chopped parsley, and lemon zest in a small blender or food processor. Blend until smooth (I used a mini food processor so my mixture turned out a bit chunky; a blender or Vitamix will yield a smoother consistency and brighter green color). Can be made up to 1 day ahead.