Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Bowl of Comfort

I apologize for the long absence. It has been a long, hard month. As some of you may know from Facebook, my cat (the very same bread-thief) had been quite ill. Thankfully she's been getting better, and hopefully she will continue to improve, but it was touch and go there for a bit. Anyway, long and hard, as I said, and I'm only just now starting to feel like I'm getting back to myself. 
Sometime between when my cat got ill and now (read: this week) winter arrived. This November was one of the warmest Novembers I could remember and I think I was sort of in denial about the onset of winter. I kind of hate Jerusalem winters. Rather, I hate the lack of insulation and heating and being wet and cold in my bones. So the cold and rain kind of took me unawares and I seem to have picked up the bad cold that has been going around the office and all and all I'm pretty miserable at this very moment. All of this, is a slightly roundabout way of saying that the time for soup has arrived. Soup (and tea) are my default states during the winter and I'm always on the lookout for new delicious soups to make. Luckily, my sister-in-law did not let me down when she pointed me to Mark Bittman's Roasted Chestnut Soup. Roasted chestnuts always remind me of long winter Friday nights, the difficulty of the cracking open their hard shells, the warm low light inside and the bright snow outside. There's little to no bright snow where I live now, but in my mind that is always the association roasted chestnuts will hold for me.  

Roasted chestnut soup. For winter.

Roasted Chestnut Soup

Bittman suggests roasting your own chestnuts for this soup, but vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts are just so much easier. Use them. 

10-12 roasted chestnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cups stock (chicken for a richer soup, vegetable for something lighter)
salt and pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot, or other soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and then the celery with a good pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent- about 10 minutes. Add the chestnuts and the stock. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Simmer, partially uncovered for a half an hour, until the chestnuts are mushy. Use a hand blender to puree the soup. Add water, if too thick, otherwise re-heat, taste, adjust seasoning and serve. 

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