If you have skinned chestnuts, proceed to step 2. If your chestnuts still have their skins, preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a sharp (preferably curved) paring knife to make na X on their flat sides. Roast them in one layer in a baking pan for 10 to 15 minutes, or until their skins begin to open away from the meat. They will then be easy to peel; remove both outer and inner skins while they are warm. (The peeled chestnuts will cook faster if you chop them roughly, but it isn't necessary.)
Meanwhile (if you have skinned chestnuts, start here), put the olive oil or butter in a deep skillet or casserole over medium heat. A couple of minutes later, add the celery, onion, and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and the chestnuts, bring to a boil, and partially cover. Adjust the heat so that the mixture simmers and cook until the chestnuts are mushy, about 30 minutes.
Carefully puree the soup in a blender (if you are not in a hurry, cool it slightly first for extra caution). Measure and add water to make 6 cups of liquid. Reheat, adjust the seasoning if necessary, garnish with celery leaves or parsley, and serve.
Great for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Happy holiday cooking to all.
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Reprinted with permission from © Mark Bittman Quick and Easy Recipes from The New York Times, published by Broadway Books. click for book review
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Happy Holiday Cooking!