Chestnut Pear Soup ~ Comfort Soup!

French Fridays with Dorie

Chestnut-Pear Soup

Its not often that I am at a complete loss for what I should expect from a recipe but this Chestnut Pear Soup was quite a surprise to me as it was something I quite enjoyed. Usually as I read through a recipe I can pretty much make a good go of knowing if the outcome will be something I would enjoy or not. Not so with Dorie Greenspan’s Chestnut-Pear Soup, this week’s French Friday’s with Dorie assignment project. I mean, who puts pears in soup?

Or chestnuts?

Chestnuts have a delicate, slightly sweet and somewhat nutty flavor more often associated with desserts due to their primary ingredient status in chestnut paste, something you might have on hand if you are lucky enough to have been brought a tube or two from friends who have come from Paris (hint.) This delicacy is good over a glop of ice cream or mixed into a custard tart base, or into a chocolate sauce, coffee cake, etc. The boxes of holiday goodies that arrive at the office each year will also invariably contain a small box of candied chestnuts. I might take a bite but I always regret it as they are quite sweet.

So no, my mind didn’t take to the chestnut as the basis for a soup at all – but Dorie’s did, of course, which is why you see it here today. Her inspiration comes from a chestnut pear tart by Pierre Hermé and it seemed just strange enough an idea to get me back to my Dorista kitchen. (After all, I can’t continue to playfully chastise the other Doristas for culinary squeamishness if I don’t put out for some of these oddities, can I?)

As I set out I realized that my mind doesn’t really take chestnuts anywhere. Yes, I’ve eaten them before, of course. But not very often and I can’t tell you where or when. I just have. Chestnuts harvest this time of year so they are invariably associated with the holidays, yet they haven’t ever been a part of my holiday tradition. I haven’t roasted a single chestnut over an open fire. Ever. I’ve not seen one of my friends do it either yet several of them buy them each year to put near their open fires in decorative baskets to suggest that at any moment will will discover them and become Norman Rockwell paintings.

“Hey! Lets sing carols and roast these chestnuts!”

“Not just now. I had planned on us trimming the tree. Can someone help me pour the bourbon into the egg nog?”

The promise of alcohol is always just enough to distract my friends. The basket of chestnuts will remain intact.

I have encountered street carts of roasted chestnuts in my travels but I can be counted on to breeze right by them without interest. To my mind these carts have struck me as the type of thing tourist manuals warn you against eating from. Now that this chestnut pear soup has reminded how good their delicate flavor is I might not be so inclined to pass one by again.

Chestnut-Pear Soup

Chestnut Pear Soup

As with most soup recipes, there isn’t much to this one and if you have made soup at all you too can reason this one out easily enough. The recipe calls for a large jar of chestnuts which may not be an easy find for most people. Does your supermarket have a chestnut section? Mine doesn’t. Dorie suggests that frozen chestnuts will work in a pinch but that helpful tip wasn’t so I did as I usually do when it comes to these hard-to-find items and ordered them from Amazon. (I understand most of my Dorista compatriots did as well so it gave me a small chuckle to think of the Amazon food vendors wondering why such a rush on French jars of chestnuts?)

In two tablespoons of butter you lightly sauté one chopped onion, 5 finely chopped stalks of celery, and the light green and white portion of two leeks until slightly soft. (About ten minutes.) Add to this 2 cored and cubed pears, 1 large jar of chestnuts, one sprig each of thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper, and 6 cups of chicken stock. (For this soup I used a commercial stock and not my home made stash. It was a wise choice as I think the less hearty stock allowed the chestnut flavor out enough to balance with the savory flavors and not get lost. )

Simmer gently until the chestnuts are soft and mashable, like a potato, so that you can puree when done. About 45 minutes. Puree in batches in a blender or food processor, adjust the salt and pepper and there you have it. Garnish with a swirl of cream and a rosemary leaf or use some chopped chestnuts or pears.

A scaled down version of this recipe can be found here as well.

Chestnut-Pear Soup

Bomb+End+of+Post4

This Chestnut-Pear Soup was an assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “Around My French Table”. We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers, or it is, in fact, not much of a recipe at all, I will either include it here (adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe. You should buy the book though.

It will change your life as it has mine.

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Funny, I have actually roasted fresh chestnuts & used them in soup (with winter squash). But pears. No. I don’t want to be like the runny egg haters, but I just wouldn’t put a pear in my soup.
    All that said, your drizzling skills are exemplary!!!

  2. This looks wonderful. Lots of folks make Chestnut Soup, but the pear thing is new to me and totally intriguing. I am trying to imagine it. It must be so wintry and satisfying. The chestnuts are sweet, so I imagine that the pears would go well. Your china is beautiful.

  3. See now I often throw apples into pumpkin and squash soups s this didn’t seem too weird to me at all. Sorry you had to re-mortgage your house to buy chestnuts ;) Your presentation is gorgeous!

  4. I didn’t even mention this one to Bill…I seem to torture him enough with food these days. But to my surprise, it was a lot better than I expected! Who knew? Only Dorie, I guess :)

  5. When I get into the city, I always go to the Chelsea Market. There is a great little Italian import store there. Usually that’s where I stock up on my chestnuts. Lately my local grocery has been carrying them but, of-course not this week!
    I was also surprised how much I enjoyed this soup. Your presentation is beautiful…love the bowl! Have a great weekend, Trevor!

  6. I’m partial to the color brown so this soup didn’t appear offensive to me in color. With your accompanying artistry of cream on the surface, that’s a pretty darn good looking bowl of nourishment. Your soup bowl is a perfect choice. All the things you said about chestnuts, I ditto but I am back in Aspen for the holidays for the first time in ten years and have a “real” fireplace that burns “real” wood. So I am prepared to roast those nuts which will soon be appearing at Whole Foods. I knew I wouldn’t like this week’s recipe either but it turned out to be a real favorite. It’s snowing buckets outside right now, the ski slopes open tomorrow and it’s c-o-l-d. If I had chestnuts on hand, I would roast them (I do have bourbon so just may get into that.)

  7. Lovely presentation:) I need to try your suggestion of adding some spice to the soup. Have a great weekend.

  8. Chestnuts over ice cream? Intriguing idea, Trevor!

  9. This one surprised me in a good way too. Chestnuts are not really much part of our seasons here so while they are around in winter, they are not that common. I adore your Florentine crockery – gorgeous.

    • Not Italian… Its a set of Victorian china from 1870 actually. It never makes it onto the blog as its not the best for food photos…but this brown muck really needed something ornate to distract you from it. :)

  10. Interesting… I’ve only had chestnuts in savory dishes, never in a dessert. I’d never think of using them in something sweet. Where’ve I been? Glad that this one was a pleasant surprise, Trevor.

  11. Hi Trevor,
    Enjoyed your post and love your soup! I guess if I had used roasted chestnuts I would have a darker color for me soup; and I shall certainly do that next time.

  12. Trevor if only I knew when we got together that you hadn’t roasted chestnuts before I would have invited you to my house to see how it’s done. Well, Virginia people really do roast chestnuts, some of us don’t even need a holiday to cook some up. Hey, my grandmother used to roast them for card games! So glad you did enjoy them, and you get the prize for best presentation. If I ever visit your house I would count your china before I leave.

  13. Chestnuts remind me of childhood and Thanksgiving. I’m thinking this soup would create a very good memory.

  14. Great photo w/the china…Victorian, what a treasure! (Bless you for storing it! I sent a family set on to the next lucky caretaker last year…bad, Amy!).

    I couldn’t bring myself to photograph the final product, glad I snapped a photo of the pretty pears!

  15. If awards are being given you win for ‘Most Appetizing Presentation’! Your soup in the gorgeous bowl actually looks delicious! Quite a feat!

  16. I want that bowl. Now. Seriously. Wow you really nailed the award for how to take a yummy but “neutral” (I am being generous here….) soup and making it fly off the page. All kidding aside- I just adored your presentation. Yup, hubby and I were not sure what to expect but were more than game and were justly rewarded. Victory is ours.

  17. Wow Trevor. What a lovely presentation. Yes, that bowl totally stole the thunder. It is absolutely gorgeous.

  18. Usually, if there are chestnuts in the house, they end up in some form of cake…(the ones that don’t get eaten out of hand).

    When I make it down to Chelsea Market, I always try to grab a can or two of puree. Fortunately, somehow I still had a can left.

    Frankly, I don’t think the Amazon run on chestnuts could have been any more odd than the Costco sized bottles of rose syrup and rose flavoring they must have been shipping out when we all made the loaf cake….

  19. An interesting combination, to be sure. I love your picture!

  20. This flavor combination sounds wonderful — and love the presentation. Cream swirls and styling soup in general have been challenging for me! Adore this. Thanks so much for posting. (And thank you as well for pinning some of my recipes! I so appreciate it.)

  21. I can’t tell if you’re serious about turning this into an ice cream, but do post about it if you do. I’ve never seen chestnut ice cream, but it does sound interesting.

  22. I LOVE your dishes – so pretty! You have a similar chestnut “background” as me, and I was also pleasantly surprised by this soup.

  23. That is gorgeous tabletop right there! Wow! Beautiful! As for the soup- I’ve never had Chestnut soup- or ever thought of it before. How interesting! I love freshly roasted and in stuffing etc, but a whole soup with them is really intriguing!

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  1. […] her favorites: Creamy Mushroom Soup and Butternut Squash Soup. Or if you are feeling bold, try this Chestnut Pear Soup from Trevor at Sis Boom […]

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