Monday, 27 December 2010

Lentil and Chestnut Soup

We had planned to drive down on Christmas day from Scotland to Essex, England to be with Ds mother and sister. However due to the recent harsh weather and dangerous driving conditions, this did not happen and we have ended up staying at home.
I've already mentioned the reason why the Christmas tree and all associated decorative ornaments have remained boxed in the attic this year, so there were no exchanges of presents between the two of us. But it was not all bad for me, I did receive an unexpected gift in the post which warmed my heart. Thank you J.

In the box were a number of edible goodies like flowering tea, but it was this gorgeous hand knitted hat which delighted me the most. It complimented my purple winter coat wonderfully. Of course I wanted to wear it and show it off immediately. I asked D if we could go out for a walk in the snowy park and get some fresh air in our lungs. My real reason was to wear it on my noggin' and strut my magic stuff.
I am embarrassed to admit it, but there was once a time when I would snug and wrinkle my nose at the thought of a handmade present. It is only in the past six years or so that I have gained a greater appreciation of handmade gifts, other than them being unique, they are also made with a lotta love and kindness. Early in the week I also received these tiny mitts from Pia which I won in her giveaway a couple of months ago. These are just so cute and will adorn my Christmas tree come next year.
So after our walk in the snow, we tucked into this dense and creamy lentil and chestnut soup. I have to point out that this soup was made with tinned pureed chestnut. I know shame on me for not using fresh chestnuts especially as they are in season. But have you seen the price of them at the grocers and supermarkets?! Ridiculously expensive. I had hoped to have foraged for some this year, but it did not happen. So for ease I used canned. If you cannot find pureed, whole cooked chestnuts will do fine. Just chop them up before you add it them to the soup to simmer. This lentil and chestnut soup is deep and its texture and flavours are enhanced further by the celery leaves and fennel seeds.
Lentil and Chestnut Soup
Serves 4 - 6
140g green or brown lentils
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
2 ½ pints of water
1 x 435g canned and pureed chestnuts
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a pan and add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and fennel seeds. Cook over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. Then add the lentils along with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat an simmer covered until the lentils are tender (about 40 minutes). Remove the bay leaf, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the chopped up chestnut puree and simmer gently stirring now and again, to ensure that the chestnut puree has broken down and been absorbed into the soup. Adjust seasoning then serve with the celery leaves scattered over. Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison


  1. I have never cooked with chestnuts. my nana had them growing in her yard and i used to throw them at my sisters! :)

  2. love the sound of fennel leaves in the soup - glad you found a little handmadelove to brighten your christmas - I agree that a handmade gift is special and I too appreciate them more now than I used to

  3. What a gorgeous hat mangocheeks and I love the butterfly on it :-) Love your hair aswell, how do you keep those curls looking so curly and not frizzy - my curls are manic :-)

    So sorry to hear what your family are going through at the moment, it must be hard watching your hubby go through such pain whilst also feeling so sad yourself. Take care and lots of virtual hugs to you. x

  4. Lovely pictures!
    I wish all the best for 2011

  5. This year was our first, for using chestnuts which came in a long life bag from Pete's Fruitique in Halifax, N.S. They tasted great, but felt floury... however, I can well imagine them in this robust soup.

    Would like to comment further on your two gifts. They are beautiful and the hat is most becoming. I recognize the work, most especially in the tiny mittens..just as demanding to make as full size mittens. Great gifts and so pleased they lifted your heart. Stay warm.

  6. This soup sounds so rich and warming. Looks tasty! I love the little mitts. And that hat is really pretty...certainly worthy of strutting magically about with.

  7. Your lentil chestnut soup sounds wonderful! I love both of those things, so hearty and warming in the winter! Thanks for sharing :)!

  8. Never had this soup before...But looks delicious and superb healthy.

  9. I love lentils! I've never put them in a soup before, can you believe it? I'm bookmarking this :)

  10. Lovely, comforting soup!

    I love home made presents, I have this thing about hand made, home made, not quite an obsession yet.... but close to it!

    I got a present too, macaroon from another NZ blogger, we have so few bloggers here in NZ (food bloggers even less!!), nice to make contact with one. And I hope to meet her too when I go down South later in the month.

    We don't have snow here, but it is raining too much, with danger of floods.

    Keep warm


  11. I love that hat - gorgeous. The girls were given two lovely hats for Christmas which I covet very much. Chestnut soup - lovely and there is no shame in using a tin. I have peeled chestnuts - what a pain, vacuum packed every time for me. xx

  12. Lovely handmade things! Especially the hat! And I would love to try that soup! I'm sure it was very yummy!

  13. Waw!! That festive soup looks so appetizng & comforting too!

    I must make this soup this evening!! thanks!

  14. Hi Vic.
    Thats so brotherly.
    When I was small I too would play conkers with my brothers. It was my mother who would roast them. I'd say have a go with them, they are very dry and floury and a very 'meaty' ingredient :)

    Thanks Johanna.
    Botht the fennel seeds and celery leaves add a different flavour to the soup.
    The handmadelove sure did brighten my christmas - Thank you.

    Hello Scented Sweetpeas.
    Thank you for your lovely comment and kind words :-)
    My husband teases me in the morning and calls me a 'bush baby' as my hair is very manic and out of control. I don't do very much to it, no hairdryer, no hairsprays or lotions. I have only ever used almond oil, every morning I use about a teaspoon through my hair. I always have and it has always tamed my frizz to soft curls and made it look glossy too :-)
    Take care and a virtual hug to you too. x

    Thank you Cucina di Barbara.
    I wish the best for 2011 too x

    Thank you so, so much Rosaria.
    Happy New Year to you!

    Hi Gardeningbren.
    Fresh chestnuts are very floury. My mother would often roast them in the oven and we woudd then have to peel the skin off. Lucky you to have got a bag of locally grown chestnuts. the ones here at the supermarket were all imported.

    Thanks you - the two gifts really are beautiful. I am not a knitter myself, though dream to be one-day, but your right to point out that the tiny mittens are just as demanding to make as full size mittens. Warm wishes to you and the Captain.

  15. Thank you so much Rose.

    Thank you Amy.

    Hi Angeline.
    So glad you like the sound of the soup.

    Hi Kate of whatkateiscooking.
    You must immediately remedy this and have a go at making soup with lentils. It is wonderful and makes the soup more hearty :)

    Thank you Alessandra.
    I had an incline you were a lady into her home made presents :)

    Your macaroon sounds liek a real treat. Nice to receive gifts from fellow bloggers. Like NZ, there were not many food bloggers in Scotland, but now there are quite a few. Attempts have been made to get Scotland bloggers together by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes but it never happened.

    The snow here has melted away revealing dirty roads. You keep warm too.

    Thanks Kath.
    So funny to read that you are coveting your daughters hats. Thanks for forgiving me for using tinned Chestnut. Your right fresh chestnuts would have been a pain to peel. I may have been happy to do that but those in the supermarket were not even local or even British, annoyed me a little esp. as they are in season. xx

    Thank you so much LeLa.
    When I put the hat on my head, I actually remembered the one you made for your father. It made me smile. I hope he liked it.

    Thank you so much Sophie.
    It is a deep and comforting soup.
    Please let me know how you find it if you do get round to making it.

  16. You look gorgeous! I am coveting your hair, your coat and your hat!
    I hope next year is a good one for you both.

  17. Oooh, I love lentil soups! This looks like a cracking recipe, I'll be making it for lunch tomorrow (with canned chestnuts, seeing as I'd need to remortgage the house to buy fresh ones!)

    The hat looks marvellous on you! I'm really glad you have a hat suitable for strutting your magical stuff in, and it keeps you nice and toasty! And the butterfly as adorable!

    Keep warm & well, dear friend!

  18. Yum to the soup Mangocheeks and big hugs to you from me.

  19. Thank you Lou.
    Happy to give you the coat, not the hat though and my hair, take my workd for it, it looks good right now but first thing in the morning its a different story.
    Happy New year to you to and to your gorgeous little family.

    Thanks you so, so much littleblackfox xx
    This lentil and chestnut soup is really thick. I do hope you enjoy it. Ah you must have seen the price of the fresh chestnuts too. I may have bought some had they been grown locally. I don't understnd why so much of it is imported.

    Thank you the hat is truly adored and most appreciated! I had so far kept me nice and toasty! Thank you so much again.
    You Keep warm and well too, dear friend!

    Thank you so much Jacqueline.
    Big hug to you too and Santa Baby aka Cooper, and may I wish you and your dear family aHappy happy New year.

  20. Mangocheeks, thank you for your kind wishes over at mine. My very good wishes to you and your extended family during this holiday period.

  21. MMM.. all your recipes look delish!
    Have a great New Years!

  22. I could just sit down with a hot cup of tea and muse over the wonderful photos and recipes in your blog. I am sorry to learn of the passing of your father in law and send my prayers of peace and comfort to you and your family. Wishing you a wonderful New Year in 2011 and a large plot of land for your garden!

    From your newest gardening friend across the pond,

    P.S. If you Google Teena Marie, search for her song "Dear Mr. Gaye".

  23. Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving me a comment! I am very glad you did too….as a vegetarian struggling in meat obsessed France, your blog gives me ideas about what to grow on my potager next year and some gorge recipes too!

  24. Thanks for your kind comments on my blog, lets hope we all have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

    Oh what a find your blog has been, as a vege, I'm always on the lookout for something different that doesn't have copius ammounts of heavy spice, why do these fancy tv chefs think everyone likes them :) I wish I had found your receipes earlier but better late than never. Thanks for sharing. I'll be back :)

    Cate x

  25. Thank you so so much Jenny Beattie.

    Thank you Alittlesprite.

    Thank you so much Gloria for your lovely and thoughtful comment and warm wishes. It is most appreciated. I willgoogle Teena Marie as soon as I finished responding to my fellow comments. Thank you.

    Thank you suzie.
    I am so pleased that my blog may offer you some vegetarian recipes. I've only ever been to France twice as a tourist and really struggled to find veggie food. We ate a lot of bread, cheese and pastries! So I can imagine your frustrations. Kind wishes.

    Thank you for repaying the compliment vintage mum aka Cate. I am so pleased my comment brought you to my blog to showcase some homely veggie cuisine. I have to put my hands up and say I do like spice and spiced up dishes, but i appreciate not everyone does, so my blog does feature some recipes without too many spices :) Kindest of wishes

  26. I notice you wear a lovely purple coat and I assume that is you in the banner photo wearing a bright pink coat. I am ashamed of my charcoal grey, boring coat now.
    I did order a purple coat online in the Autumn but when it came, it didn't sit right so I sent it back.

  27. Hi Lou.
    Yeph it is me in the banner. There was once a time I woudl never ever wear such a vibrant colour and confined myself to only wearing black. It is only in recent years that my coat colours have changed with both the purple and the vibrant pink being purchases in the last two years and both in sales I must add.
    I'm petite, so always struggle to find clothing that sits well on me, especially my hips.
    Sorry that the one you ordered did not sit right on you, but perhaps you will find something in the NY sales. But in the meantime, don't be ashamed of your charcoal grey coat, I still have my black one in the cupboard. It keeps you warm. Warm wishes.

  28. i'm glad you enjoyed what i sent! unfortunately the mittens (which i use as a winter necklace or a brooch to perk an outfit. recommended! i've never seen them as a garland, but you're not the first one who thought they were:) have not been made by me, as i've mentioned before. but i love and admire that work, creating miniature and patterned things with yarn and needles isn't really my thing. mini other things, pattern other things yes, but with yarn i like to keep it reasonably simple. ah, for not having the patience i once had...

  29. Thanks Pia.
    Everything was most appreciated.
    Whoopsy about the mittens, good to read that they are versatile. I must perk an outfit too.
    Happy New Year to you and Thank you for adding some cheer to my Christmas day.


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