It’s pretty chilly. There is half a foot of snowfall outside, I’m full of cold and due to essential boiler maintenance, we’re due to be without one for two days next week. Tempting indeed to go into full-on hibernation mode.
Sadly, there are bills to pay and jobs to do, so to keep me going, this little beauty of a winter soup is just the job. One of Hugh F-W‘s mighty veggie-friendly concoctions from River Cottage Veg Every Day!, and recently re-published in Stylist (where I first came across it).
The recipe claims to serve four to six – true if you are serving small portions as a starter, but it is so richly delish and hearty that I can recommend bulking up the portions and considering it a main course, accompanied by some roughly torn farmhouse loaf. If so, the below will be fit for three (or two super-hungry individuals).
The smells of sage wafting through the apartment take me right back to Sunday roast afternoons at home. Bliss.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 15g butter
- 1 medium onion [I go large]
- 6 sage leaves, roughly chopped [I use more, but to taste]
- 1 small garlic clove [I use three but then I'm a garlic ho]
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 400g cooked, peeled chestnuts [in Sainsbury's, can be found next to the herb section in handy tins]
- 100ml crème fraîche
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat 1 tsbp of the olive oil and butter in a saucepan and sweat the onion for about 10 minutes on a medium heat, until soft and translucent.
2. Add the sage and garlic and saute for a minute.
3. Pour in the stock and add most of the chestnuts – reserving a handful for the garnish later on. Season with salt and pepper, increase the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and let cool. Then Puree until very smooth in a blender [I use a stick blender for ease]. Return the soup to the pan, add the crème fraîche and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Warm through gently – do not let it boil.
5. Slice the reserved chestnuts [I actually prefer to keep whole, but as you wish]. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat and saute the sage leaves for a few seconds until crisp, then drain.
6. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, scatter on the remaining chestnuts, sage leaves and a trickle of olive oil. Finish with a grinding of black pepper. Serve immediately.