Around Thanksgiving, people always ask me how, as a vegetarian I survive a turkey-free day. With hors d’oeuvres, soup, stuffing, and 5 or 6 vegetable side dishes, I have way more food than usual.

In fact, I could stop at the soup. I usually make a rich chestnut soup for our family gathering, a crowd-pleasing soup that is also deceptively easy to make. The key is to buy peeled chestnuts, in a can or jar.  These are not the candied chestnuts, used in baking, just whole roasted chestnuts.

Yes, chestnuts roasting on an open fire smell great, and make people burst into song. But peeling them is arduous, even when I’ve painstakingly scored each raw chestnut with an “X.” And forget about keeping that holiday manicure fresh.

The jarred chestnuts are more expensive than fresh, but there is no waste. Even if you carefully select each chestnut, you might get a couple that don’t look so great when you roast them. Plus you have to do your nails again.

Your time is better spent making your own vegetable stock, but you can use a prepared one. Just be sure to choose one that is not loaded with sodium, or chemicals. I use Imagine Vegetable Broth in a pinch.

Remember that vegetable stock freezes well, so if you have a couple of hours in the house, you can start a stock, let it cook away while you do something else, and fill your freezer with stock for making all sorts of soups, risottos or even that Thanksgiving stuffing.

Chestnuts are an excellent source of protein and vitamin C and are high in fiber and iron, so enjoy this soup guilt-free.

Ingredients:

  • One 7–8 ounce jar roasted chestnuts
  • 2 C vegetable stock
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 C whole milk
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Saute onion in butter till soft, then add broth, carrots, chestnuts and celery. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer, for 40 minutes, or until carrots are soft.
  • With an immersion blender, puree the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender let the soup cool, then blend or puree in food processor.
  • Just before eating, whisk in milk, then reheat. Don’t let the soup boil.
  • Optional: garnish each serving with a sprinkling of chopped fresh or dried cranberries.

Serves 4-6; double or triple as needed