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Archive for December 1st, 2008

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Earthy, sophisticated, mellow. Yep, great descriptors of this winning soup recipe from a friend of mine. And just the perfect selection to start an elegant meal, or a hearty rustic lunch with some fresh-baked bread. It’s a puree, and freezes well. I have made the necessary nondairy adaptations. Enjoy!

Porcini & chestnut soup

1/3 cup dried porcinis 
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 medium carrot, diced 
1 celery, diced 
2 large shallots or ¼ small onion, finely chopped 
1 sprig each of bay leaf, thyme and parsley 
2 tablespoons margarine 

2 cans low-sodium chicken broth (or 4 cups homemade)
1 1/4 pounds coarsely chopped peeled roasted chestnuts or 8-12 ounces bottled/canned/defrosted chestnuts. You want between a cup and 1 1/2 cups chestnuts. 
Fresh-ground pepper
2 tablespoons dry sherry, or white wine, or cognac

a swirl of nondairy creamer
chopped parsley for garnish

1. Combine porcini mushrooms and the hot water in medium bowl. Let stand until porcini mushrooms soften, about 20 minutes.

2. In a large saucepan melt margarine and add carrots, celery, and shallots or onions. Saute until tender. Add herbs and chicken broth.

3. Using slotted spoon, transfer porcini mushrooms into saucepan with chicken broth. Add porcini-soaking liquid to saucepan, carefully leaving sediment behind in bowl (pour it through cheesecloth) . Add chestnuts and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove herbs before pureeing.

4. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return soup to saucepan. Or, just use an immersion blender, being careful to keep it at the bottom of the pot to avoid hot splatters. You may want to add a bit more water or stock if it’s too thick. You want a light soup, with the consistency of milk. Add Sherry, wine or cognac to taste. Bring soup to simmer, correct seasonings adding salt and pepper, to taste. Cool slightly and refrigerate. Can be prepared 2 days ahead or frozen. Re-warm over medium heat, stirring well to recombine if its separated.

5. Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle a bit of nondairy cream in a spiral. Just a touch of parsley for color is nice.

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