Chef Michel Roux Jr shares this fabulous Velouté de chataignes – chestnut and apple soup from his new book The French Kitchen.
Michel says: “I’m often asked to explain what makes a recipe a classic. The simple answer is that it is a dish that has stood the test of time. A classic can be anything from a pan of sautéed potatoes, redolent with garlic and herbs, to the most extravagant fish or meat dishes or beautiful pastries.
“A great winter warmer, this soup is a speciality of the Cévennes region of France where chestnut trees grow in abundance. They also make a version in Corsica where they have a thriving chestnut industry. The soup is best made with dried chestnuts, which are sold peeled and ready to reconstitute in water before being cooked.”
180g dried chestnuts
1 sprig of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 white onion, peeled and chopped
800ml vegetable stock (see below)
1 red apple
1 green apple
1 tbsp unsalted butter
½ tbsp caster sugar
olive oil (optional)
Soak the chestnuts in water for 3–4 hours until reconstituted, then drain them and rinse. Put the chestnuts in a large saucepan with the thyme, bay leaves, onion and vegetable stock. Roughly chop half the red and half the green apple and add them to the pan. Bring the soup to the boil, then simmer gently for about 40 minutes or until the chestnuts are tender and cooked. Take out some cooked chestnuts to use as a garnish, remove the thyme and bay leaves, then blitz the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Using a melon baller, scoop out little balls of apple from the remaining halves. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the apple balls and sprinkle them with the sugar. Toss briefly until lightly glazed.
To serve, put a few cooked chestnuts and apple balls in each bowl, pour in some soup, then drizzle with a little olive oil, if you like.
For the Vegetable stock – Bouillon de legumes
Makes 2 litres
1 small onion
2 celery sticks
1 leek (green top part only)
2.5 litres water
1 bay leaf
1 bunch of thyme
a handful of parsley stalks
Peel or trim and roughly chop all the vegetables and put them in a large saucepan with the cold water. Add the herbs and bring the water to the boil. Simmer for about 35 minutes, then strain the stock before using. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Read our review of Michel Roux Jr’s book The French Kitchen
Recipe from THE FRENCH KITCHEN by Michel Roux Jr, © Michel Roux Jr