We’ve hit a bit of a warm stretch here in Boston – it topped out around 45º today. Do you think I’m joking? Because, funnily enough, I’m not. After the frigid temperatures we’ve been having, 45º found me with my coat unzipped and commenting on what a warm day we were having. So it goes in these parts…
Even so, a hot bowl of soup is on my dinner table many a night this time of year and this little number has become one of my winter favorites. It’s quick and easy enough to make if you’re serving a special lunch, satisfying enough on its own or with some fresh bread for dinner, and absolutely perfect as an unconventional cocktail party hors d’oeuvre. I served it as one of the heavy appetizers at my daughters’ birthday party in December. In teeny tiny mugs (I used espresso mugs) it looks adorable and somehow makes it seem more special than your everyday soup.
Now let’s talk about what’s on the inside. There are lots of great vegetables in here that make up that gorgeous orange color: onions, pumpkin, butternut squash, fennel, carrot, and celery. It’s like a salad in a soup bowl! If you find you have a hard time getting your daily dose of veggies, this soup may be your saving grace.
The flavors manage to be both simple and complex. The sweetness from the pumpkin and butternut are balanced perfectly by the mellow onion and fennel. A sprinkling of sliced roasted chestnuts adds a bit of texture to an otherwise silky smooth soup and adds such a rich, interesting counterpoint to the other flavors in the soup.
This was my first time roasting chestnuts and I followed this simple tutorial.
My grandmom had given me a bag of fresh chestnuts from her friend’s tree so I had them to use, but you can often find them in stores already roasted and peeled. While I loved the sweet, nutty, buttery taste they added, if you have trouble finding them or they just aren’t your thing, a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds would be a nice garnish as well.
Pumpkin and Winter Squash Soup with Roasted Chestnuts
Serves 6 as an entree
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large fennel bulb, chopped
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
1 1/2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into 1″ pieces
3 c. chicken stock
1 c. half and half
1 c. roasted chestnuts, sliced
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add pumpkin, butternut, carrot, celery, and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup (can also puree in batches in a blender or food processor). Whisk in half and half and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
Ladle into soup bowls and top with sliced chestnuts.
Click here for printable recipe.
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Winter Squash Soup.