Lyle planted chestnuts at the Plant around 2006 as we were working on planting trees and native plants to attract birds, pollinators and wildlife. At the time, the Plant was a dead zone. The eco system was entirely out of balance and the mosquitos were as big as dragonflies. Fast forward to 2020. The chestnuts are bearing fruit and we are working on creating the market for this nutritious bountiful sweet nut!
Chestnuts are a true nut (not a seed or legume) and are high in Vitamin C, rich in minerals and high in fiber. For more information on nutrition check out this site.
Historically chestnuts are associated with the holidays, but are an ancient source of calories, fiber and they taste buttery sweet. We just dropped off a load of chestnuts at Chatham Marketplace if you are looking to experiment with chestnuts. For a list of more recipes, check out this site. Gloria and Val created a new drink at Fair Game Beverage that includes a chestnut milk as part of their seasonal cocktail menus. I decided to make a chestnut soup. I roasted 2 pounds of chestnuts for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Cut a little score in each chestnut so that the heat will just pop them open for easy peeling.
Once they come out of the oven, you must peel immediately or they will cease up.
Gather a few of your loves around and peel together. Kind of like shelling butterbeans on the front porch with your Granny.
Once your get your chestnuts processed, roast some mushrooms and peppers. I used a friend's shitakes (covered in olive oil and fresh thyme) and also threw in some sweet bells, tobagos and one poblano pepper for roasting. Roast those for about 20 minutes and you are ready to prepare the soup.
Ingredients: 2 pounds chestnuts in the shell (roast, shell and put to side)
2-3 cups of mushrooms & peppers roasted in olive oil (make sure one pepper has some heat to it to balance out the chestnuts and mushrooms) 4 cups of chix or veg stock
olive oil (enough to cover bottom of pan) 1 large onion 6 cloves of garlick 1 cup of chopped celery 1 cup of carrots 1 can of coconut cream (or cow cream if you like) spices: couple of bay leaves, sprinkles of cumin, paprika, red pepper, parsley, whatever is laying around your counter + salt and pepper of course Sautee onion, garlick, carrots and celery in pan until golden brown. In a soup pot, pour in and add stock and chestnuts and roasted pepper/mushrooms. Add spices in and let simmer for about 25 minutes. Take out bay leaves and use an immersion blender to blend it all up into soup with a few chunks. (or use a blender...but make sure it's cooled a bit) Add cream.
I added some maple syrup on the top, but you can add sour cream, yogurt, bacon, chives, whatever you like as a topping.