Delia

Chestnut Soup with Bacon and Thyme Croutons

A bone from a baked ham makes a good stock for this one – but if you use vegetable stock, it is still an excellent soup. You can buy the chestnuts ready peeled and vacuum-packed in supermarkets and specialist food shops. If you can't track them down, just use fresh chestnuts and peel them yourself.


Serves 4

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Christmas and The Delia Collection: Soup.

Chestnut Soup with Bacon and Thyme Croutons
Ingredients
 7 oz (200 g) cooked and peeled whole chestnuts
 1 stick of celery, trimmed and chopped
 1 small onion, chopped
 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
 2 pints (1.2 litres) ham or vegetable stock
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the croutons:
 1 rasher bacon, derinded and very finely chopped
 ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
 4 oz (110 g) stale white bread, cut into small cubes
 4 tablespoons olive oil

Method

To make the soup, you simply place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, season lightly with salt and pepper, bring up to simmering point, then put a lid on and simmer very gently for 45 minutes. While that's happening, you can prepare the croutons. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the bacon gently for 5 minutes, then turn the heat up to its highest setting, add the cubes of bread, together with the thyme, and toss them around (keeping them constantly on the move) until they, and the bacon, have turned a deep golden brown colour and become very crisp and crunchy. Turn them out on to some absorbent kitchen paper.

Then, as soon as the soup is ready, allow it to cool slightly, then transfer it to a blender and purée until smooth. You may need to do this in more than one batch, in which case, it is a good idea to have a bowl to put the soup in as it is ready. Re-heat the soup in the pan, season to taste and serve in warmed soup bowls, with the croutons, bacon and thyme sprinkled over.

How to Cheat Hero Ingredient
1 x 200 g pack Merchant Gourmet cooked and peeled whole chestnuts.

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