Oh and Duck if you want
So wasn't I the one who said I was too impatient to wait for persimmons to thaw out? Hmm I'm not sure how I ended up spending the better part of a half hour getting the shells, skins or whatever you call the outside bit of the chestnut, off a bag full of them. It wasn't too bad I suppose, but for anyone in a hurry I heartily recommend purchasing a bag of frozen peeled chestnuts for this recipe. Whatever you do, don't buy bargain basement chestnuts in the shell, there will be many rotten or hard ones, to be discovered only when you start peeling them, a waste of money and time.
Soup is one of the many things the Thermomix excels at, all the chopping cooking and blending done in the one bowl and once the chestnut peeling is done, this soup is a snap. I am sorry to all the vegetarians out there, this tastes good on its own, but it's much better if you add some duck. I just bought a half a duck from the Chinese restaurant and added the deboned meat to warm through before serving. Do make sure you find some kind of sherry, tokay or similar to add once the soup is in the bowl, it makes quite a difference. Everyone has a dusty bottle of sherry or tokay in the back of their cupboard don't they or is that just us?
750 g chestnuts in the shell or 500 g peeled and frozen
Quarter teaspoon fennel seeds
1 onion cut in half
1 medium sized fennel bulb cut into quarters
1 stick of celery roughly chopped into quarters
1 dessert spoon of Thermomix stock concentrate and 500ml water (or 500 ml chicken stock)
2 medium potatoes cut into quarters
Cooking and peeling chestnuts
If you have bought chestnuts in the shell, take a Stanley knife and carefully cut a slit in the flat side of each one then place them in the Varoma (top or bottom it doesn't matter).
Pour 1000 grams of water into the Thermomix bowl and set the Varoma on top to steam your chestnuts.
Cook for 20 minutes on Varoma temperature speed 4
The inner layer of skin is easiest to remove when the chestnut is hot and moist so only peel one at a time and leave the others in the Varoma with the lid on.
Empty and dry the Thermomix bowl
If you bought frozen chestnuts already peeled then this is where you start.
Place onion celery, fennel bulb and seeds into the Thermomix bowl and chop on speed 5 for 5 seconds.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula.
Add 20 grams of butter and saute on 100 degrees speed 1 for 4 minutes.
Add the chestnuts, potato, thermomix stock concentrate and 500ml of water to the Thermomix bowl
Cook at 100 degrees for 20 minutes on speed 1
After 20 minutes puree the soup by slowly increasing the Thermomix speed to speed 9 for 45 seconds. This can be a little bumpy because of the chunky contents, make sure the measuring cup remains in place.
Check there are no lumps left and process again if required.
If the resulting soup seems thin, set it cooking again for another ten minutes to reduce and thicken.
Pour into bowls add a teaspoon of sherry per bowl and shredded duck meat if desired.
Serve with bitter salad leaves.
Stephanie Alexander recommends that you pass chestnut soup through a fine sieve because it can be grainy, I found that after a day in the fridge any graininess had disappeared and sieving was unnecessary.