Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (February 2016) and taken from the book River Cottage Gluten Free written by Nutritionist, cook and River Cottage teacher Naomi Devlin.
Roast chestnuts have the starchy quality of baked potato, with a smoky sweetness that is fantastic with chorizo. You can also use pre-prepared chestnuts here, for something that is almost as good. If you need more protein, a poached or fried egg is a great addition.
400g fresh chestnuts (in shells)
125g chorizo or spicy salami, skinned
1 tsp butter or duck fat
Pinch of fennel seeds (optional)
4 carrots, roughly diced
1 large onion, roughly diced
1 celery stick, roughly diced
150g Swiss chard or rainbow chard
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
1 tbsp tomato puree
large pinch of saffron threads
Greek yogurt and Turkish dried chilli flakes, to finish
Step One: Preheat the oven to 220oC / Fan 200oC / Gas 7. Make a cut in the top of each chestnut, place on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until tender. Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel, halve or quarter and set aside. (It’s a lot quicker to use pre-prepared chestnuts, but you won’t get the same smoky flavour).
Step Two: Cut the chorizo or salami into small chunks. Heat a saucepan over a low heat and add the chorizo chunks with the butter or duck fat and fennel seeds, if using. Cook gently for a few minutes until the chorizo oil starts to run. Add the diced vegetables and cook gently for at least 20 minutes until they have taken on a deeper colour and smell sweet.
Step Three: While the vegetables soften, slice the white stalk from the chard leaves and cut it into chunks; set aside. Shred the leaves finely and set these aside too. Add the garlic to the pan with the thyme leaves and tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes until the tomato smell rises from the pan. Add the chopped chestnuts, chard stalks, saffron threads and enough boiling water to cover everything by 2-3 cm. Bring to a simmer, put the lid on and lower the heat. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes until everything is soft. Taste for seasoning.
: Either leave the soup chunky or mash it a bit, leaving some texture – you’re not aiming for a smooth result. If it’s too thick, add a little water; if too thin, uncover, turn the heat up a bit and let it bubble to reduce slightly. Finally, add the chard leaves to the soup and bring back to the boil; this will be enough to cook them through. Serve each portion topped with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, if you like. If the chorizo is mild, you may want to put some chilli flakes on the table.