The holidays would benefit from a playbook, wouldn't they? We partnered with Braun Household to arm you with resources for cooking like you wrote it yourself, with a little help from their MultiQuick 9 Hand Blender.
Did you know you can order chestnuts online? Already peeled and roasted and ready to be given whatever treatment in the kitchen you'd prefer? You can, and you should, especially come the holidays when their earthy, roasty, and slightly sweet flavors are a welcome accompaniment to all those meats and hearty greens.
I love serving (and eating) soup at a dinner party because it can always be made ahead of time and heated right up when the time comes to serve. It lets you focus on other more urgent requirements, like flipping chops or tending to cocktails. And I love pureed soup, as it fits into the cool weather rotation easily. But there's something old-hat about potato (and even tomato) soup that makes it feel predictable after a while. Enter chestnuts.
Chestnuts take to soup, and savory flavors in general, like ducks to water: Just drop them into a pool (of vermouth or wine) and they'll start swimming like they've always known what to do. I recently got excited by cauliflower at the market and wanted to make a creamy soup that had LOTS of black pepper in it. Armed with my internet-ordered chestnuts, that cauliflower, parmesan, and black pepper (plus the help of a little heavy cream), I turned out a creamy soup that had a balance of sweet, savory, and spiced, thanks in part to the help of a hand blender and some deep pots. Blending right in the pot keeps your surroundings tidy (no spills while transferring) and no need to bring out a countertop blender. I garnished mine with a sprig of thyme and extra black pepper—it needs that pop of green at the end.
It's a lovely first course, a way to set the tone of an evening, and feels incredibly seasonable. And a little extra cream never hurts, so feel free to add a little more if it needs thinning out.
- Olive oil
- 2 large shallots or 1 yellow onion
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped or crushed into small pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 2 cups (approximately 450 g) peeled and roasted chestnuts
- 1/4 cup vermouth
- 1 bay leaf
- Few sprigs thyme
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup ground Parmesan
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- More black pepper—start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste