January 14, 2004
[Velvety Lentil Chestnut Soup]
I think I am getting the hang and love and joy of soup. I told you before the odd intimidation it provoked in me, but after preparing a few successful pots of simmering velvety goodness, I think I can declare myself officially and fully over it.
The other day, browsing on Maki's excellent blog i was just really hungry, one of her soup recipes caught my eye, a Lentil-Chestnut Soup. Lentils and chestnuts are two of my favorite things, it sounded simple and versatile, and I had (almost) everything on hand to make it. When so many elements confer to make you try a recipe, it is usually a good omen!
I set about making this on a weeknight, coming home from work, and it was, as Maki promised, nicely uninvolved, with hardly any peeling and chopping, just a bit of soul-warming dumping, timing and stirring. As always, I didn't follow the recipe to a T, and subbed or omitted a few things here and there, so I will share with you my take on it. (Maki suggests a few interesting variations too, including using sweet potatoes in place of the chestnuts.)
I have to tell you : this soup we have here, my friends, this soup, is a small masterpiece in its own right. It is creamy with delectable chunks, and has the light and subtle sweetness I adore so much in chestnuts. It is a fantastic dish for a winter night, and reheats to even more greatness (and covetous looks from your coworkers) for lunch the next day. Thank you, Maki, for a wonderful gift of a recipe!
Velouté de Lentilles aux Marrons
- 200 grams (7 ounces) green lentils (I used the AOC lentilles vertes du Puy)
- 200 grams (7 ounces) raw chestnuts, frozen
- 2 yellow onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1.5 liters (6 cups) vegetable stock
- 3 dry thyme twigs
- 2 dry bay leaves
- 1 tbsp crème fraîche
- olive oil
- salt, pepper
- 1 tsp honey or cassonade or molasses (optional)
Peel and chop the onions, by hand or (preferably on a weeknight) in the food-processor. Peel and chop the garlic. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat up some olive oil and cook the onions and garlic on medium heat until translucent, for about ten minutes.
Add the stock, lentils, herbs, a bit of salt and a bit of pepper. Bring to a boil, and let it simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the chestnuts (no thawing necessary), and cook for another 20 minutes.
Try a spoonful (caution, it's hot!) to see if the lentils and chestnuts are cooked to your taste, and correct the seasoning. This is when Maki adds something sweet (honey or molasses, I also suggest cassonade), but I omitted it this time, not wanting to make the soup too rich. Transfer some or all of the soup in the food processor (or use an immersion blender if yPou have one) and mix it. I wouldn't mix it too thoroughly, as chunks are particularly desirable in this soup.
Return the mixed soup to the pot, add the crème fraîche, and stir over low heat until the cream is nicely blended. Alternatively, you could add less or no crème fraîche at this point, and add a dollop in each steaming bowl as you serve.
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