There is nothing more comforting during the over-indulgent festive season than a mug of steaming, hot soup. Having had my work Christmas party last week and over doing it on several team lunches (Hawksmoor and The Green Room to name but a few), I was craving some simplicity in the form of a comforting mug of soup. I had bought chestnuts at the beginning of December so I was eager to use them in a recipe to save them from languishing in the back of my cupboard for six months. Pairing them with the autumnal flavours of celery, celeriac, apple and adding salty pancetta seemed like the perfect solution. This soup is one that will be ideal for a starter on Christmas day and also serves well as a simple meal if your body is in need of some nourishment after a few heavy nights! A very seasonal and simple soup which packs a punch. Add a garnish of crispy pancetta and chestnuts for an extra hit of flavour.
1 tbsp rapeseed oil (or any other oil you care to use)
4 slices pancetta, chopped (+extra for garnish – optional)
1/2 a large white onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1/2 small celeriac, cubed
1 apple (I used Braeburn), cubed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
6 chestnuts, chopped (+ extra for garnish – optional)
750ml chicken (or veg) stock
1. Heat the oil on a medium heat and add the pancetta to the pan, frying for a few minutes until lightly cooked.
2. Add the onion and celery and cook for five minutes until softened. If you find that the heat is too high at this point, turn it down. The aim here is to cook the vegetables down without caramelising them.
3. Add the celeriac, apple, oregano and chestnuts and stir around for a minute or two.
4. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
5. Simmer for 25 minutes.
6. Blend well and serve.
To garnish: Sautee some pancetta until golden and add the chopped chestnuts to the pan for the final minute. Spoon over the finished soup.