Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew Cream

Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew CreamCelebrate the New Year with a Bowl of Auspicious Soup

Elegant, rich and velvety Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque is most auspicious. Prepared with such treasured ingredients as chestnuts, wild mushrooms and cashews, each bowl symbolizes longevity, prosperity, mastery and success in hard times. Truly a most perfect holiday soup for celebrating the New Year 2013.

Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew Cream

A cream soup by another name
More than just puréed vegetables and cream, “bisque” implies a thicker, richer and more elegant cream soup. Luscious cashew cream provides a flavorsome alternative to heavy cream in this non-dairy and appropriately named Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque.

Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew Cream
Besides their sweet flavor and rich texture, chestnuts are low in calories, contain no cholesterol, no gluten and only a little unsaturated fat. And when puréed they do a beautiful job of thickening soups such as this Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque.

It’s fun to roast and peel fresh chestnuts when you have someone helping you in the kitchen. As delicious as chestnuts taste, they are demanding to prepare. You’ll need to remove both their outer shell and their inner skin while they’re still hot from roasting.

Without a kitchen helper or when fresh chestnuts aren’t available, buy chestnuts already roasted in jars or frozen. You’ll cut down on your frustration as well as reduce both your active time and total preparation time considerably.

A celebration soup for those of us who love to cook
Yes, there are lots of steps to this recipe. But actually it is quite straight forward and not really that complicated. I’ve included all the details to guide you successfully through the recipe. Your efforts will be well rewarded with the complex and harmonious flavors, inviting aroma and velvety texture of this most auspicious Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque.

Wishing you a healthful, joyous and most delicious 2013 ♥

Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew CreamChestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew Cream

A velvety smooth and luscious blend of wild and cultivated mushrooms, roasted chestnuts and cashew cream—vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free. Inspired by and adapted from a recipe from Martha Stewart Living and another from the Tasting Table.

Makes 11 cups, 5-6 servings
Active time:  1½ hours with fresh chestnuts
Total time:  2½ hours

1½ pounds fresh chestnuts OR 1 pound peeled frozen chestnuts OR 21 ounces of jarred peeled and cooked chestnuts, drained
Vegetable Stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into ½–inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
2 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch slices
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup (1/3 ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
Stems from the fresh shiitakes used in the soup
2 bay leaves
6 whole peppercorns
8 cups water
6 ounces cremini mushrooms, 2 sliced and reserved for garnish and the rest coarsely chopped
2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and added to the stock; 2 caps sliced and reserved for garnish and the rest coarsely chopped
1 medium tart apple, i.e., Granny smith, peeled, cored, coarsely cubed
Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew Cream2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, sliced
1 garlic clove, halved
The peeled and roasted chestnuts
1¼ teaspoons good quality salt
Dozen twists freshly ground pepper
8 sprigs fresh thyme
8 cups Vegetable Stock
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cashew Cream
2 cups water
1 cup cashew pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or butter)
2 each shiitake and cremini mushrooms sliced 1/8-inch thick
4 chestnuts, sliced 1/8th inch thick
½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Use a chestnut knife Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew Creamor a “box cutter” or the tip of a sharp paring knife to cut through the shell and into the flesh all around the middle of each chestnut.Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew Cream This keeps the nuts from exploding and facilitates their peeling.
  3. Place the chestnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew CreamRoast them about 35 minutes. They will be tender when pierced with a paring knife.
  4. Turn off the oven, leaving the pan of chestnuts inside. Remove a few chestnuts at a time to a clean dish towel.
  5. Roll the chestnuts around in the towel, Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew Creampressing on them lightly to break their shells. Remove and discard the outer shell and the inner skin. Repeat the process with the rest of the chestnuts. Hint: the shells and inner skin are much easier to remove when the chestnuts are hot.
  6. Reserve 4 whole, peeled chestnuts. Slice them thinly and set aside.
  7. While the chestnuts are roasting, prepare the vegetable stock. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, carrot celery and garlic. Cook covered for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, till gently browned. Stir in the dried porcinis, shiitake stems, bay leaves, peppercorns and water. Bring the water to a boil then lower the heat so the stock simmers gently. Cover the pan and cook for 45 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
  8. Begin preparing the soup once all of the chestnuts are peeled. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the chopped mushrooms, apple, shallot, garlic and peeled, roasted chestnuts. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  9. Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew CreamCook 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, till everything is golden.
  10. Stir in the fresh thyme sprigs and then the strained vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat so the partially covered pot simmers gently. Cook until the chestnuts are very tender, 45-50 minutes.
  11. Stir in the nutmeg.
  12. While the soup is cooking, prepare the Cashew Cream. Use a blender to blend together the cashews and water for 4 minutes. Transfer the cashew cream to a large bowl and set aside.
  13. Remove the sprigs of thyme and discard. Carefully transfer about 2½ cups of soup at a time to the blender. Blend until very smooth; add to the bowl with the cashew cream. Repeat with the remaining soup. Return everything to the soup pot. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Keep the soup over very low heat while you sauté the garnish vegetables.
  15. Prepare the Garnish Place the olive oil or butter in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot stir in the reserved sliced mushrooms and sliced chestnuts. Cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  16. Serve the soup garnished with the sliced mushrooms and chestnuts and sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves.

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2 thoughts on “Chestnut Wild Mushroom Bisque with Cashew Cream

  1. Once and only once have I ever endeavored to cook and peel chestnuts. Way to much work for me (and I had help). I used a different technique, so maybe that was the problem.

    Your soup is tempting me try my hand at it again, or maybe I’ll just look for some already peeled and packaged?

    • Glad this soup is tempting you to try again. And, I’ve read that the already peeled and packaged ones are comparable to the freshly roasted–plus they’re available all year long. Definitely worth trying. Let me know when you do.

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