By Swarna Koneru
Professional Culinary Arts student
I am a forager by nature. Growing up, I used to get fruits, vegetables and herbs from the backyard. Nowadays, not having many options to forage in the wild I forage in the grocery stores.
Every time I see a gourmet store or an ethnic market I make sure I try to come in and learn about new ingredients and foods. Sometimes I first buy something frozen or precooked to taste, and if I like it I try to replicate it myself. I pick up unknown to me ingredients and learn more about them once I get home.
On one of my “foraging” expeditions I bumped into freshly roasted chestnuts being sold outside of the store. I immediately grabbed a bag of those. Later on a beach trip, I bought some dried porcini mushrooms from a roadside vegetable stand. I always prefer such ingredients to supermarket produce because they are minimally processed.
I combined roasted chestnuts’ delicate, sweet, and nutty flavor with the woodiness and earthiness of the porcini. This soup is a perfect winter dish!
- 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 1/2 cups of roasted chestnuts, peeled
- 6 brown crimini mushrooms diced
- 1 clove of roasted garlic (place in aluminum foil, coat in oil and roast in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes)
- grated parmesan for garnish (optional)
- crème fraîche for garnish (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Soak dried porcini in a cup of boiled water for 10 minutes. Strain and keep the liquid. Dice the porcini.
2. In a pan, melt the butter and sauté the crimini and the porcini until nicely browned.
3. Add the chestnuts and sauté a little more till they get light brown.
4. Transfer the ingredients to a blender, add garlic and make a smooth paste adding stock as needed.
5. Transfer the puree to the pan, add the stock and the reserved porcini liquid, and bring to a simmer. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a sprinkle of grated parmesan and a drizzle of crème fraîche.
6. Serve with sourdough bread smeared with truffle oil and toasted in the oven at 400F for 10 minutes, then sprinkled with parmesan and roasted again till the cheese melts.