Silky Chestnut Soup
- SERVINGS: 2 to 4
Alex Urena, co-executive chef of Manhattan's Blue Hill restaurant, wants his date to feel at ease, which is why he kicks off his romantic menu with a supercomforting chestnut soup.
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- One 14-ounce vacuum-packed jar of cooked and peeled chestnuts (2 1/2 cups)
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 medium leek, white and tender green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons Cognac or brandy
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add 4 of the chestnuts and sauté over moderately high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Add the onion and leek to the pan, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the honey and stir until melted. Stir in the remaining chestnuts and the stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer over moderate heat for 10 minutes.
- Finely chop the sautéed chestnuts. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve. Season the soup with salt and pepper and stir in the Cognac. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls. Garnish with the chopped chestnuts and parsley and serve.