Chestnut Fennel Soup
2 cups roasted, shelled, and skinned chestnuts (1 lb in
shell or 14 oz bottled whole)
1 shallot, chopped
2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 fennel bulb (sometimes called anise), stalks and core discarded
and bulb coarsely chopped
1 cup chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup half-and-half
Coarsely chop chestnuts, reserving 1/3 cup for garnish.
Cook shallot and leeks in 2 tablespoons butter in a 5-quart heavy pot
over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add wine and simmer until
almost all liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in fennel, broth,
chestnuts (excluding garnish), and water, then simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
Stir in half- and-half and cool mixture slightly.
Purée mixture in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring
to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return soup to pot
and bring to a simmer, thinning with water if desired. Season with salt
While soup is reheating, heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch
heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté
reserved chestnuts with salt and pepper to taste, stirring constantly,
until crisp and butter is browned, about 4 minutes.
Serve soup topped with chestnuts and drizzled with browned butter.
Makes about 6 cups (serving 6 to 8).