Chestnut-and-lentil soup

Yield: 6 Servings

Measure Ingredient
1 pounds Chestnuts
\N \N Light oil
1 cup French green lentils =OR=- Brown Lentils
2 quarts Water
1 medium Carrot diced into small, even squares
1 \N Celery stalk cut into small squares
½ small Onion; finely diced
1 large Garlic clove peeled and finely chopped
1 \N Bay leaf
½ teaspoon Salt; or to taste
5 \N Parsley sprigs
3 tablespoons Light olive oil Chestnuts (from above)
1½ teaspoon Chopped fresh marjoram -OR- Dried Marjoram
¼ teaspoon Fennel seeds, crushed (or ground)
\N \N Fresh thyme sprigs; -=OR=- (generous) dried Thyme
½ cup Dry white wine
1 tablespoon Tomato paste Lentils (from above)
\N \N Water, stock or cream (as needed)
\N \N Salt
\N \N Freshly milled black pepper
\N \N Extra-virgin olive oil
\N \N Finely chopped parsley
\N \N Small croutons, fried (in butter or oil) (optional)

FINISHING THE SOUP

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F. Score chestnuts on their rounded sides and toss them in just enough oil to lightly coat them. Place chestnuts on baking sheet. Bake until skins have opened and meat is tender, about 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and dice them into small pieces. Set aside. Rinse lentils and combine them in soup pot with the water. Bring to boil. Cook a few minutes at gentle boil, removing foam that forms on surface. Add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and parsley. Lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. When done, remove parsley sprigs and bay leaf. Correct seasoning and add salt, if necessary. Puree half the lentils until smooth, then recombine them with the rest. FINISHING THE SOUP: In pan large enough to hold soup, warm olive oil, then add roasted chestnuts and herbs. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for several minutes. Add wine and tomato paste. Stir to dissolve tomato paste and cook a few minutes to reduce wine. Stir in lentil mixture and simmer gently 20 minutes. If soup is too thick, thin it with a little water, stock or cream until of right consistency. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Serve with spoonful of olive oil swirled into each bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and croutons, if desired. ---

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