Zuppa di Castagne (Chestnut Soup)

servings: 6-8
Cook Time: 1 Hr 0 Min

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  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1/4 bulb fresh fennel, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 sprig rosemary, chopped
  • 4 cups chestnuts (or 2 cups meat)
  • Water
  • Salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2-1 cup cream


Boil the fresh chestnuts in enough water to cover for 20 minutes. Peel the chestnuts, taking them from the pot of water one at a time. If they are at all difficult to peel, put them back in the water or reheat the water. Chestnuts peel easiest when very hot. If using dried chestnuts, place them in boiling water, turn the fire off and leave them to soak until softened.

Sauté the pancetta in a soup pot; remove to the side when lightly browned. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan and sauté the onion, leek, garlic, and fennel until soft and translucent. Add the rosemary, then the pancetta and boiled chestnuts. Stir to coat with the oil and add enough water to the pan to cover. Add the bay leaves and salt to taste and simmer for 30 minutes.

Just before serving, add the cream. Serve with croutons.

Additional Tips

Pick fresh chestnuts that are plump and solid feeling. To enjoy them roasted, just make a cut through the shell on the concave side and roast them in an 375-degree oven for about 30 minutes. If you don’t cut them, they’ll explode. To use them for cooking, boil them for 20 minutes, then peel the brown shell and skin and use the meat in stuffing or soups.

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