chestnut-pear soup {ffwd}

chestnut-pear soup

November is not a good month for Howard and French Fridays with Dorie recipes. He liked the chicken, but after week 1, it’s been all downhill, and the slide will continue for the rest of the month. Fruit, fruit mixed with savory, French toast, all just not his thing… Oh, well, as they say, “More for me!” This week’s recipe is in the fruit mixed with savory category: Chestnut-Pear Soup.

My signature Thanksgiving stuffing is a chestnut stuffing, so I’m a big fan of chestnuts. I used to roast and peel them, filling the kitchen with aromas that evoke memories of a city street corner on a winter’s day. Peeling chestnuts is hard work, though, so I was so happy when, about a decade ago, I discovered jars of already steamed and peeled chestnuts at Williams-Sonoma. Not an inexpensive option, but with all the tasks to make a Thanksgiving meal, pre-peeled chestnuts always seemed like a good value. Since that initial discovery, I’ve seen (and purchased) chestnuts in even more stores, around this time of year, and stock up to introduce chestnuts into pre- and post-Thanksgiving meals.

Add this simple soup to the list of tasty ways to consume chestnuts. A bowl of Chestnut-Pear Soup looks unpromising, yet a spoonful reveals a surprising complexity of flavor. You get the earthy nuttiness of the chestnuts along with a touch of sweetness from ripe pears and the added depth of oniony-ness from leeks (in addition to regular onions). I used only 1 quart of broth because I prefer a thicker soup than Dorie does.

Chestnut-Pear Soup made a perfect autumn lunch. It would also make an elegant starter to a special (or even an everyday) meal. I topped the soup with a splash of cream and a quartered chestnut and enjoyed my lunch. I’m hoping it freezes well. I was the only one eating it this week, so put a few containers in the freezer for later.

If you’d like to find out how my French Friday friends enjoyed their soup, check out their links here. For the recipe, you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.


Posted on 15 November 2013, in Autumn, French Fridays with Dorie, Soup and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. “A bowl of Chestnut-Pear Soup looks unpromising, yet a spoonful reveals a surprising complexity of flavor.” I couldn’t agree more! Nice work! PS: It does freeze well!

  2. Well I must go out and find where I can find them as I now know I like them and want to use them in things… like soup. Williams Sonoma? I’ve never seen them there but will look now. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Yeah, I didn’t even tell Bill about this one…and I’m not surprised that Howard was on the same page. But I loved it! I’m not even sure I’ll make next week’s dish…now I’m thinking a quarter batch!

  4. Glad you enjoyed this soup. Didn’t hit the mark for me. Funny, I love chestnuts .

  5. What Howard needs are some beautifully-frosted tomato soup spicy cupcakes. Would that put a smile on his face? Maybe not. Betsy, do you remember how delicious that cupcake was? First, you are a chestnut maven and I am impressed. I think it’s an East Coast thing!!! I ended up liking this soup very, very much. Like you, I cut the broth but left mine super chunky. Although I gave half of it to my neighbors, I did freeze the rest. I am really getting educated about cooking and baking with these little guys this week. Thanks for giving me some sources. (BTW: Am reading Doris K Goodwin’s “Bully Pulpit” right now and like it. I have never read any Teddy Roosevelt biographies so all this is new info for me. And, then there’s Taft. All I knew about him was that 4 people could get into his bathtub!)

  6. Love the look of your soup and that chunk of chestnut as garnish!

  7. Thank goodness someone else who has eaten chestnuts. They do smell amazing. I never had chestnut stuffing, probably because my Italian family always wants sausage stuffing. We would only leisurely crack and eat them, no one ever peeled them for a dish. I can’t image how labor intensive that must have been.

  8. Betsy, When I read your first paragraph…I had to laugh, and then I had to read it to Bill. He is not quite as bad about fruity things, however….there was no way he was eating this soup!
    I always enjoy walking the streets of NYC in the winter, with the heady aroma of roasted chestnuts filling the air. I think Mary may be right, it may be an east coast thing, but I think it could also be ethnic. The Italians and in my case Lebanese really love their chestnuts.
    I loved this soup, and it’s a good thing since I ate it three times already! Your’s looks luscious! I wish I made mine a bit thicker. Have a lovely weekend!

  9. I am surprised that Jim has tried some of these recipes at all, probably thinks it’s this or nothing. Just kidding, he has been a good sport about it. Have to say, this was not a winner for either of us. Have a great weekend.

  10. Glad you enjoyed the soup Betsy! Howard is right there with Gary! He was not impressed with this soup! At all!

  11. First off, you had me hysterical at November’s march of doom for Howard and how it will continue to be a “downward slide” :) Too funny. I WISH I didn’t like half of this stuff but alas, very few things do turn out to be on my “do not call” list. And funny that you mention finding these in Wms Sonoma because that was my first memory as well. But from long ago. I worked there at night after graduating college and getting a daytime accounting job (I needed something less boring at night :)) I was shocked that people bought a big glass jar of these things and more shocked at the price. Now keep in mind that this was 1988 so I am 100% sure this has changed but the biggest shock of all was that these items, imported from France, came through with no sealing whatsoever on the jars. Even back then I found this surprising. And yet, we all survived, no ? Glad you enjoyed the soup. We sure did too. And great job on that quartered chestnut on top- so pretty !

  12. I adore sweet with savoury. Your soup turned out great.

  13. It’s funny how some FFWD months are harder on our families than others. November has been a pretty good one for my husband, though I’m not so sure about this week…we’ll find out! Glad you liked the soup, and that Howard got to avoid it!

  14. This soup looks very intriguing. I usually love mixing fruits and savoury things together. i will have to make this when I can get my hands on those chestnuts.. Glad that you enjoyed this soup.

  15. Betsy, it is Monday morning around here and I finally have a minute to write a comment…your Chestnut-Pear Soup looks absolutely wonderful, I love the warm color that it has and I, of course, I love the very pretty, rustic soup bowl that you served the soup in. I guess I am very lucky as far as willing taste testers are concerned. They are always lined up as soon as I place food in front of them.
    Thank you also so very much for your kind and thoughtful comments on my blog. So much appreciated. I loved learning about the celebtrations on November 11th – always love learning something new. Keep those wonderful and detailed infos coming, if you get a chance!
    Have a wonderful week and thank you so much again- it is always nice to get friendly feedback on my pictures and ramblings about food and all things food related!

  16. Poor Howard. Hopefully, December is an improvement.

    I enjoyed this more than I thought I would – but any recipe with leeks has a leg up in my book.

  17. I’m not sure I would’ve known this had pear if I hadn’t made it myself. Do you ever try to test/trick Howard? :-) I’m glad you enjoyed the soup – beautiful bowl you served it in.

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