It's wintertime, and the chestnuts are roasting on the open fire. If you love roasted chestnuts like me, then let's explore the amazing flavor of this soup together.
It was in Abruzzo, a partly mountainous region to the east of Rome, Italy, where I learned that lentils and chestnuts go together. Because the people there grow an important variety of lentils in a designated area of the region, they specialize in lentil dishes, especially soups. Warm comfort food in such a cold area is something enjoyable beside the warmth of a fireplace.
Adding chestnuts to the basic lentil soup recipe makes for a delicious combination of flavors. Usually the chestnuts are boiled beforehand, but since I love the taste of roasted chestnuts, I roasted them in a special chestnut-roasting pan instead. If you don't have one, then just pop them into the oven on a baking sheet. Or if you can find them preroasted, you'll save time cooking this delicious soup.
Lentil and roasted chestnut soup recipe
What I like about this lentil soup is the surprising lightly sweet edge the chestnuts give to the overall taste of the soup. Everyone who tries it says it has a rounder taste and is more delicious than a classic lentil soup.
Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour 45 minutes | Total time: 2 hours
- 1 pound chestnuts, preroasted or fresh
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1 pound presoaked lentils
- 6 cups vegetable broth, plus more if needed
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Freshly cracked pepper
- If you are using preroasted chestnuts, skip this step. If you are using fresh chestnuts, then using a small, sharp knife, make a slit through the outer skin of each chestnut, and roast them in a chestnut-roasting pan until the skins open well. If you are roasting the chestnuts in an oven, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, place them into a baking pan, and bake until the skins open, about 40 minutes.
- Let the chestnuts cool down, and then peel off the skins. Crumble the chestnuts, leaving a few pieces whole for garnishing.
- In a large saucepan with olive oil over medium heat, sauté the onion, carrot and celery for about 5 minutes.
- Add the lentils, and mix them in until they are covered with oil, about 2 minutes.
- Add the broth, chestnuts and bay leaves, and then let the mixture boil.
- When the mixture is boiling, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils become soft. If the mixture is drying up, then add more hot broth or water.
- Season with pepper.
- When it is cooked, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve hot.
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