This recipe is inspired for a healthy holiday celebration and based on the classic French soup called “velouté” or “velvety”. A few changes are on order to make this delicious soup more nutrient and less calorie dense. Out goes the use of a roux (a blend of refined flour and some type of fat, usually butter or oil). The chestnuts themselves will give a nice thick consistency without the added calories. We also substitute the heavy amounts of cream traditionally used by some hearty almond milk instead. For ease, I use cooked, cryo-vac packed and ready-to-use chestnuts but feel free to use fresh chesnuts, pierced, steamed or roasted and peeled. A key ingredient in this recipe is dried mushrooms and dried mushroom powder for an aromatic dish that your guests will love. Finally, a last minute optional addition of a tablespoon of Armagnac liqueur (it is the holidays after all!) per serving raises this soup to celebratory status!
1 oz (28 gr) dried sliced porcini (or a combination of mixed) mushrooms
3 cups of hot water
2 large shallots, peeled and diced
14 oz (400gr) peeled and steamed chestnuts (feel free to peel and roast them if you are using fresh ones). They can be whole or in pieces.
3 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 cups vegetable stock
10 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems off and rinsed
3/8 oz (12 gr) dried porcini powder or any dried mushroom powder
5 Tbsp Bas Armagnac Liqueur (optional, for serving)
Soak the dried sliced mushrooms in 3 cups of hot water and let stand for about 10 minutes. Then remove the soaked mushrooms with a slotted spoon, sliced them to bite size pieces and set aside. Strain the remaining soaking liquid through a cheese cloth or fine sieve and set aside, making sure to discard the last ¾ inch of water with dirt and sediment.
To make the soup, heat a medium stock pot over medium heat. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable stock and add the shallots. Mix with a wooden spoon and steam-saute for a few minutes, until shallots start turning lightly brown and adding stock as needed to avoid sticking, about 7 minutes. Add the chestnuts and saute for another 6 minutes or so mixing from time to time and adding more stock as needed to avoid sticking. Add the rest of the vegetable stock, the almond milk and the mushroom powder. Season lightly with freshly ground pepper and cook over medium to low heat until chestnuts start breaking apart, about 10 minutes. Place soup mixture on a blender and blend well (add some of the mushroom soaking liquid if needed), in batches if needed and put back into pot. Add the sliced soaked mushrooms, the shiitake mushrooms and the mushroom soaking liquid. Cook for another 6 minutes to allow flavors to mix together well. Serve with a Tbsp of liquor per bowl if using. Bon Appétit!!