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Home » Beans, Peas & Such, Beaucoup Soups, Foods you're probably not eating but totally should be, GFF (Gluten-free friendly), Have a (well-functioning) heart, Holiday eats, No lactose? No problem.

Wild Mushroom Chestnut Soup with Autumn Garnishes

Submitted by on December 7, 2011 – 6:30 pm3 Comments

What does one make for dinner on a dark, cold, rainy, Wednesday night when her cozy family is snoozing away at 6pm and she is left to her own resourceful devices in a quiet kitchen?

It’s a particularly vexing question when one neglected to go grocery shopping over the weekend, so her fresh ingredient stock is limited to onions, baby carrots and a small handful of brussels sprouts.  A thorough inspection of the pantry yielded plenty of dry staples, though, and the back corners of the fridge were hiding the jetsam of our Thanksgiving cooking frenzy– a half jar of chestnuts, some leftover sage leaves– quickly on their way out.  Time to get creative.

I decided to compose a soup of Dried Wild Mushrooms, Lentils and Chestnuts, using roasted brussels sprouts and fried sage leaves as a garnish.  My hope was that this eclectic combination of earthy and sweet flavors would be harmonious rather than cacophonous, with crispy green garnishes offering a pop of welcome color and texture to the smooth, autumnal puree.  Since these flavors work so beautifully together in Thanksgiving stuffing, after all, why not a soup?  For seasoning, I chose thyme (a classic in stuffing, and one of my favorites), and a small hit of smoked paprika to add depth and richness of flavor in lieu of, say, bacon, which I don’t eat.  (You could use chipotle powder to similar effect if you prefer a spicier soup).  I didn’t bother using celery in my mirepoix, since I never have it around the house and doubt many of you do, either.

The results were fantastically tasty beyond my expectations.  This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian (and easily made vegan if you use Vegetable stock).  It is elegant enough to serve to company for a fall or winter dinner party, but easy enough to make for no particular reason on a weeknight.  It’s filling enough to be a one-dish meal, thanks to the hearty body that the lentils provide… just load it up with that brussels sprout garnish to get in some greens!

Recipe: Wild Mushroom Chestnut Soup with Autumn Garnishes

Serves 4-6

1 onion, chopped
2 TBSP olive oil
1 carrot, chopped (or equivalent chopped baby carrots to yield ~ 1/2 cup chopped)
1 oz dried wild mushrooms, soaked in enough boiling water to cover them for at least 30 minutes; reserve the water for the soup
1.5 cups dry lentils
1 cup of jarred whole chestnuts
1 quart (32 ounces) vegetable stock, chicken stock or plain water
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Smoked paprika is the secret ingredient that brings this soup to life

Garnishes (prepare while soup is simmering):

Roasted brussels sprouts (see directions below)
Fried sage leaves (recipe follows; make LOTS of them.  You will want one in every bite of soup… they are so damn tasty.)


  1. Heat oil in soup pot or large 4 quart saucepan
  2. Add chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until sweating
  3. Add the chopped carrots, mushrooms in their soaking water, lentils, chestnuts, stock or water, thyme, paprika, 2 generous pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (optional) to taste
  4. Cover and bring soup to a boil.  When boil is reached, reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 30 minutes or until lentils are soft/cooked well
  5. While soup is simmering, prepare garnishes below
  6. When soup is finished cooking, taste for seasoning and add additional salt/paprika as desired.  Turn off heat.
  7. Using an immersion (stick) blender, puree soup in the cooking pot to desired texture.  (Alternatively, you can transfer soup to a blender and puree it in batches).
  8. Serve with roasted brussels sprouts and fried sage leaves as garnishes


  • To roast brussels: trim base off of desired quantity of brussels sprouts, and cut them down the middle.  Toss them in a bowl with just enough olive oil to kiss them all but not drown or drench… a good rule of thumb is 1-2 TBSP per pound.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Roast in 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until outside starting to caramelize but the sprouts are not dried out or mushy.
  • To fry sage leaves: set aside desired quantity of fresh sage leaves.  Trim larger leaves into 2-3 segments if necessary to ensure all leaves are roughly the same size.  Heat just enough olive oil in a pan to cover the bottom.  When oil is nice and hot, toss in a handful of sage leaves (you may need to do this in batches to prevent overcrowding the pan, which will result in soggy leaves).  Fry the sage leaves, stirring constantly, for 5-10 seconds only!  (The leaves will get crispy as they cool even though they still appear green).  Remove leaves from pan with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.  Sprinkle with a touch of kosher salt.


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  • Cassie says:

    This recipe looks amazing! I must try it 🙂 Where do you buy the chestnuts? And they come in a jar? Thx!

  • Tamara says:

    I bought jarred Chestnuts from Whole Foods, but I feel like saying that most conventional grocery stores carry them… especially around Thanksgiving time, since they’re a common ingredient in stuffing. Definitely a gourmet-type market would carry them year-round. Another option is the vacuum-packed ready-to-eat chestnuts sold in those shelf stable foil bags… I’ve seen those in lots of Asian groceries as well sold as a snack.

  • Mmmm. I have a box of peeled and vaccuum-packed chestnuts in my fridge that I found at Trader Joe’s. I wanted to make a stuffing with them, but this soup sounds so good, I might try it instead!

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