While the shiny horse chestnuts that litter Vancouver’s sidewalks each fall are inedible, the roast-able variety you’ll find in stores this season are perfect for making this yummy autumn soup from Roost. Caitlin, who created the website, has kindly agreed to let us share her culinary creation with you – enjoy!
Roasted Heirloom Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup Recipe
2 heads heirloom cauliflower (or regular cauliflower, if you can’t find heirloom)
3 large cloves of garlic, whole, skin removed
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 cup roasted chestnuts (about 20-23 nuts; if you don’t have time to roast them yourself, you may be able to buy them roasted at the grocery store)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
4-6 cups vegetable stock (amount depends on how chunky you want the soup)
Salt and pepper
Thyme and pomegranate seeds for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 F. To roast the chestnuts, score an “x” across the top of each nut with a sharp knife. Make sure you cut through the skin. Place nuts on baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until the skin of each nut is slightly peeled back and the nuts have turned a darker shade of brown.
While the nuts are roasting cut your cauliflower into chunks. Place cauliflower, whole (peeled) garlic and sliced onion on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
When the chestnuts are done roasting, turn oven down to 425 F and place cauliflower, whole (peeled) garlic and sliced onion in the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes. Stir veggies occasionally to prevent burning.
Once chestnuts are cool enough to handle, peel off the outer skin to reveal the “meat” and set aside.
While the veggies are roasting, bring the vegetable stock and bay leaves to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered. When the veggies are done pour them into the vegetable stock along with the roasted and peeled chestnuts and chopped thyme. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the bay leaves! Either using a blender or emersion blender (this is way to go if you have one!) puree the soup until it is the desired consistency. Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds and a sprig of thyme. Makes four servings.
If you grew up in Vancouver, you may have collected horse chestnuts each fall as a kid. Known widely as “conkers,” these shiny brown nuts develop inside a fleshy green fruit covered in spikes. As mentioned above, horse chestnuts are inedible (and, according to Trees of Vancouver by Gerald B. Straley, poisonous), so don’t use them in your kitchen.
Among the edible varieties are Spanish and sweet chestnuts, and these are sold in most grocery stores during the autumn months. Low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates, edible chestnuts are the only “nuts” that contain vitamin C – about 40 mg per 100 grams of raw chestnuts, though this amount decreases after heating.