This soup had better be good

27 Oct

My trusty L'Econome peeler in action attacking the sweet chestnuts

2-3 hours it has taken me, on and off, to scoop all the cooked chestnut out of the husks. Boiled them this time – always roast too long and don’t like the very dry texture. This soup had better be good. Ended up peeling them whilst watching Jack Bauer decimate baddies in 24 series 7 – does this not adequately counterbalance the wholesomeness of foraging for our food? I completely understand now why the French abandoned chestnut as a mainstay of their country diet. There are some foods that are a serious fiddle. It probably uses more calories to collect and cook and disembowel these chestnuts than they provide. No wonder chestnuts are a vacuum packed delicacy. But that’s free food for you – there’s work involved. It will taste delicious.

Jerusalem artichokes are another one… apart from their unkind reputation for windiness, Jerusalem artichokes are a bugger to peel. They are like small children – all surface area. And all of that surface area is a knobbly bit. I start with a palm size mishapen lump and end up with something like a tightly curled dormouse. They do grow like topsy though with girasol flowers. And they spread. But commercial growers must think they are too much bother.

Sorrel – I don’t know why that’s not grown commercially – because it tastes wonderful. Much lovelier than cooked spinach, with a bright lemon tang. Sorrel soup… aah… right, some of that is coming out of the freezer for later on. Why is it not widely produced? Must be because it wilts once picked and turns camoflage coloured on impact with hot water.

Report back on the soup. If it’s good might see you next week at Knole – underneath the spreading chestnuts sharply coaxing the kids to pick up some nuts instead of falling off monster fallen tree trunks or scarpering off after poor deer.

Addendum: This soup is great:
Softened some onions in a pan, added the shelled chestnuts, some veg stock, sage leaves, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and a dose of marsala at the end. Whizz up. It can get as cold as it likes now outside – we are properly warmed and cozy with our chestnut soup. It tastes not unlike more liquid Christmas turkey stuffing. Can’t be bad.

Christmas stuffing soup?

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