Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter Soup Night

Cold January nights just beg for a nice, hearty bowl of soup. I had a good supply of homemade chicken stock in my freezer (and a pile of carcasses waiting to be made into another round of stock) and the winds have been blowing hard around here lately, so last night I decided to make a nice bowl of comfort for Kevin and me.

This time around I didn't improvise or make anything up. I used an actual recipe. I have long been intrigued by a recipe I saw in Food & Wine for a chestnut soup made with celery root and mushrooms. I still had a good supply of of those Hen of the Woods mushrooms from my brother and was looking for a good way to use them. I had never tried a soup like this before. Since I'm sure many people feel I'm too much of a picky eater and need to expand my horizons, this was the perfect soup to make. Chestnut Soup with Grappa Cream (without the actual Grappa cream) it would be.

Bacon is always an auspicious start. The recipe actually called for pancetta, but it seemed to be hiding in the store. I couldn't find any. This applewood-smoked bacon I bought was wonderful. It had the best bacon scent when you cooked it.

My less saturated-fat-laden ingredients. Here we have mushrooms, chestnuts, shallots, and the celery root. Celery root is such an ugly vegetable, isn't it? It ranks up there with jicama and rutabaga. What it lacks in looks, it makes up for in scent. I think it smells wonderful when I peel it.

All of the ingredients in a pot: bacon, celery root, shallot, mushrooms, brandy, sage thyme, bay leaf and chicken stock.
What did I ever do before I had an immersion blender? I shudder at the thought of having to transfer this whole pot to the food processor and blend in batches. All hail the immersion blender!

I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished soup in a bowl with the cream added. Doodyhead! What can I tell you? It looked like mushroom bisque. It tasted even better than your average mushroom bisque. The bacon added a smoky, salty dimension. The chestnuts gave it sweetness. The herbs added all kinds of fresh flavor. It was an excellent soup and I will happily make it again.

I didn't want to add the grappa cream on top as the recipe called for. This recipe was meant to be served in small portions as an appetizer and I was serving up big dinner-sized bowls of it. Kevin and I are trying to watch our weight a bit and adding whipped cream to the soup seemed like overkill. Besides, I didn't have any grappa.

I still felt like I needed to have *something* in the soup. I thought about garlic toast. Then I thought about how we're trying to cut down on our bread intake. I wondered if a soup filled with bacon, cream, and butter really needed anything more.

I settled on this walnut-wheat bread I found at Whole Foods. I just hacked off chunks and dunked them!

The next morning I made myself a nice low-calorie breakfast.

Open-faced bacon, egg, and cheese on grilled walnut-wheat bread. The extra fat is to keep me warm while working with my horses in the freezing cold.


Complaint Department Manager said...

Since I'm not much for veggies, I could definately go for that open faced sandwich...maybe 2 since there's cheese involved.

noble pig said...

Ummm, yeah..very, very nice! I love a good soup like this! And the breakfast...yep..very low cal.

Lo said...

Chestnut soup was my favorite discovery for 2008. Having seen your variation, I'm going to suggest the cravings are going to be following me smack-dab into 2009.


StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

This looks very interesting. I don't care for chestnuts, especially in desserts, but I've never had it in a savory dish. That, I might like.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

CDM - I'll make you a couple and even through in some of that extra Irish cheddar I was using.

NP - Gotta keep up those new year's resolutions?

Lo - Definitely give the recipe a shot if you like chestnut soup.

SGCC - I'm not fond of chestnuts either. I never liked them in my desserts, but they do give body to the soup with a surprising sweetness. I definitely prefer them to something like potatoes purreed in my soup, which I would find too starchy.

Anonymous said...

Mmm, that breakfast sammie is calling our name!

The Blonde Duck said...

I love that sandwich! How can you go wrong with eggs and bacon?

Emily said...

I like this soup very much indeed. I wish we had celery root here. Yep, you heard me correctly.

The breakfast looks fabulous, too!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

It certainly seems that breakfast is the more popular meal between breakfast and dinner. ;-)

Em - No celery root in your neck of the woods? Maybe you should go to the manager of whatever store you shop at and demand some. Maybe if there is a demand, they will start stocking it.

Heather said...

That's probably the least-ugly celeriac I've ever seen, to be honest. Nice-looking soup. It's that time.

Bunny said...

This sounds so good, I've never made soup like this before, this is very tempting.

Theresa said...

Chestnut soup, mmm interesting? I love chestnuts, but never had it in soup form.

Peter M said...

Love this soup...I made a similar one over the holidays and mishrooms and chestnuts are wonderful together!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

A nice warm soup is all I want to eat these days! Love the open sandwich too!

Bellini Valli said...

I don't know what I ever did before my immersion blender either. Since it snowed for the first time in weeks last night this soup would be perfect go relieve the chill.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Heather - You're right. As celery root goes, it's almost pretty. I think I instintively chose the nicest one in the bin.

Bunny and Theresa - Give this soup a shot if you're looking for a different taste from your average soup.

Peter - It has been a great discovery. Even Sir Pickypants loved the mushroom-chestnut combo.

CC- I know what you mean. This area has been so cold, I think I could bathe in soup.

Val - Between soups and tomato sauces, and my morning smoothies, I feel like my immersion blender is a new appendage!