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The Luxury of Silky Chestnut Soup

About eight years ago we tasted a chestnut soup at Spago in Beverly Hills that had us scouring the internet for Wolfie’s recipe. We found it on Food & Wine and it has become a perennial staple of our holiday table ever since. It has come to symbolize winter for us—the edible version of a luxurious fur coat—warm, smooth, and totally extravagant. Get someone else to do most of the work for you by buying vacuum-packed chestnuts and boxed chicken stock and you can really feel like Paris Hilton in sable or P. Diddy in chinchilla.

Fresh cream rounds out the rich chestnut flavor, given dimension by the mirepoix and chicken stock base and depth and subtle sweetness by the addition of ruby port. We like to shave fresh black truffle over the soup; earthy truffles, when paired with chestnut, conjure irresistible forest floor aromas.

This soup also freezes beautifully if you want to make it in advance and then serve it at a holiday dinner party, impressively sprinkling thin black truffle slices over the bowls while everyone is looking. If fresh black truffle is unavailable, garnish with dots of crème fraiche using an eyedropper or pastry bag. Whatever you do, please don’t use canned or bottled truffles.

Tips

This is a cream soup that cools very quickly. For best results, preheat the soup bowls, get the soup very hot before serving (without scorching), and shave the truffles prior to ladling out the soup and then lay them atop.

Wine Pairing

Food & Wine recommends pairing this soup with a tart California sparkling wine. While champagne goes with everything, we prefer this soup with a red of medium acidity, such as a burgundy or pinot noir, especially if serving before a main course of meat and not switching bottles.

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