Recipe for Tuscan Chestnut and fennel soup

(Canscene) — One of La Petraia’s prized possessions is a 15-acre chestnut forest which gives birth to the following Tuscan recipe from Susan McKenna Grant. The recipe calls for either wild chestnuts and fennel or ingredients more easily purchased in our local fruit and vegetable sources


1 onion, minced
a few flakes of hot chili pepper
Olive oil to cover bottom of your sauté pan
1 fennel bulb and some of the stalk and green fronds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 lb shelled fresh chestnuts
6 cups of hot chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Truffle butter or whipped cream to finish
a few small fennel fronds to garnish.

Sautée the onion and chili flakes until they become translucent. Add the fennel, fennel seed and chestnuts. Cook for a few minutes until the fennel starts to wilt and then add hot broth. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the chestnuts and fennel are tender.

Purée the mixture in a food mill, passing it once through the large-holed disc and then through the smaller-holed disc. If you don’t own a food mill, use a blender or a food processor and then pass the mixture through a sieve, pressing on the solids. Add the butter and season with salt and pepper.

Place a few croutons at the bottom of a warm soup plate; add a ladle of the soup and top with a dollop of truffle butter or whipped cream. Garnish with a small fennel frond

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