I woke on Monday morning to a clear blue sky and a sparkling layer of frost on the roofs of the walks on Popham Street and..
..last week I was lucky enough to be working in Lisbon, where I had a delicious chestnut soup, and …..
..the inside of our Halloween pumpkin was in the fridge waiting for me to think of something to do with it..
…and so this soup happened….
I first made it without the hot pepper sauce and liked it, but it may be too sweet for some of you, so I added the hot pepper sauce just to give it a bit of a kick.
The diced flesh of a small pumpkin (ours was about 6ins/15cm diameter)
About 20 roast chestnuts
Half an onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 small carrot – all finely chopped
A cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon of nutmeg.
Generous pinch of salt and black pepper.
500 ml water or vegetable stock (I found it tasty enough with just water, but use stock if you prefer)
2 or 3 drops of hot pepper sauce (Encona is our family favourite).
What to do (roughly speaking):
Roasting and peeling the chestnuts (this is time consuming, so be prepared.)
Preheat the oven to 240C/425F/Gas mark 7
Make an “X”-shaped incision in each chestnut, place them on a baking tray and put them in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes. The shell should start to peel away from the nut.
Allow them to cool and peel them. Chop into quarters.
For the soup:
Heat a little cooking oil in a large saucepan and fry the chopped onion, garlic and carrots for about 5 minutes.
Add the pumpkin cubes and keep it all moving for another 5 minutes.
Add the chestnuts, 500 ml water or vegetable stock, nutmeg, cinnamon stick and salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil then turn down and simmer very gently for 20 – 30 minutes until the pumpkin pieces and chestnut are very soft.
Remove from the heat, take out and discard the cinnamon stick and use a wand blender to blend the soup. Don’t overdo the blending; it’s nice to find some soft tasty pieces of pumpkin and chestnut as you eat it.
Add a few drops of hot sauce and stir in well just before serving.
(If you’d like to buy the boxed set of 50 improvised recipes, inspired by our independent food shops on Essex Road, please get in touch with me in the comments and I’ll get them to you.)