Creamy Chestnut Soup – Kastana

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

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I just can’t turn down a chestnut in any shape or form during the holidays! It reminds me of being on the streets in Athens as they roast them fresh on outdoor grills during the Fall. They are now always on my menu for the holidays. This creamy chestnut soup can be made ahead of time and reheated for as an appetizer or a first course. In the recipe calls for  for a jar of chestnuts, but you can also buy fresh chestnuts and roast them yourself. My link is below.  Fresh chestnuts can be found in almost all grocery stores today. For the holidays I serve this chestnut soup as an appetizer in small cups, just as a warm starter. For a larger crowd you can easily double this recipe.  Make this soup the day before, and it  reheats beautifully on a low simmer.

In Antiquity, the chestnut tree was regarded in Greece, as the tree of Zeus. Annual chestnut festivals in Greece occur during the fall season in late October in the city of Kastanitsa, Arcadia.  Alexander the Great and the Romans planted chestnut trees across Europe while on their way to various campaigns.

Today the American chestnut tree needs to be replanted and grown again for several reasons. There is more information on growing chestnut trees at the Chestnut Association website. Here, they explain why the trees became lumber for the building industry and later not replanted here in the states. Most of our chestnuts are imported.

Why We Need to Restore the American Chestnut

  1. Restoring the American chestnut will improve our forests and increase biodiversity.
  2. Referred to as the “cradle-to-grave” tree for its variety of uses, it was an important food source and cash crop for the people of Appalachia.
  3. A single American chestnut tree produces abundant and highly nutritious food for wildlife year after year.
  4. Its fast growth and tolerance of rocky, acidic, and poor soils makes it perfect for returning degraded landscapes, such as those left by surface mining, to diverse and healthy forests.
  5. American chestnut research creates a template for restoration of other species across the world.
  6. The lumber is straight, strong and rot-resistant.
  7. A light, durable wood with lovely color and attractive grain appreciated for furniture and architectural elements.
  8. The seed is smaller and sweeter than other chestnuts. It is often preferred for cooking and roasting because of its superior flavor.
  9. The American chestnut spreads its branches wide as a shade tree and produces large, white flowers before its abundant fruit production.
  10. Restoring the American chestnut will be a conservation achievement of historic proportions, turning around what is considered to be one of the worst ecological disasters of the 20th century.

 

Here is my post on How to Roast Chestnuts for your holiday stuffing, soup or munching!

Chestnut Soup - Kastana
 
This is such a unique soup, and I became inspired to make a soup after traveling in Greece. I serve this for Thanksgiving and it's a nice appetizer before the meal. Can be made ahead and reheated, which makes it a perfect party starter.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup finely chopped carrots
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 California bay leaf
  • 6 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock
  • 3 cups fresh chestnuts or 1 (14 oz). jar peeled cooked whole chestnuts,crumbled
  • ¼ cup Madeira
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. If using fresh chestnuts: Cut an x in the middle of the flat side of every chestnut. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour until soft.
  2. Peel chestnuts while warm and crumble.
  3. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir in celery,carrot,and onion. Cook on low for 15 minutes until vegetables have softened.
  4. Wrap parsley, cloves, and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with string.
  5. Add broth and parsley bundle to the vegetables. Bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce and simmer,covered, for 20 minutes. Add chestnuts and Madiera and simmer, covered , for 3 minutes.
  7. Puree soup in small batches in a blender until smooth. Stir in cream, pepper, and salt to taste.
  8. When reheating place on a low simmer.

 

While driving down to Kalamata,  Greece in late October we came across a farm stand and found these beautiful chestnuts and Fall fruits and vegetables. Most chestnuts come from Italy early winter for us here in the U.S. You can find them at Melissa’s Produce website, where I get mine. You can order them peeled and ready to go, or in the shell for you to roast.

Guess who’s looking for a chestnut tree to plant!

Happy Fall,

Mary

Inspired by a recipe found in Gourmet-November 2003

© 2010 – 2019, Mary Papoulias-Platis. All rights reserved.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Foivi Geller

Geia sou!!! xarika pou se brika!!

2 Mary Papoulias-Platis

Foivi,
I just loved finding chestnuts at the farmers markets in Greece. We use them in many recipes here in the states.

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