This cauliflower and chestnut soup is such a deliciously rich and creamy bowl of comfort food, and this without adding any cream. It is packed with the nutty, earthy and sweet flavours of roasted chestnuts which is then combined with cauliflower, garlic, onion and fresh thyme. All the ingredients are pureed into a lusciously thick and velvety soup, perfect for a cold autumn or winters day. This cauliflower chestnut soup is luxurious enough to serve as a starter for a formal, elegant meal on a special occasion.
Fall is the season where the beauty of nature shines in a multitude of colours; trees with leaves in hues of yellow, red and brown. It is also the season of simply strolling into the forest and looking for fresh chestnuts on the ground, just waiting to be roasted. With the smell of roasted chestnuts at home, you know that Christmas is just around the corner.
Fall is also the best time for rich, hearty and comforting soups made with fresh seasonal produce, like this roasted chestnut and mushroom soup, carrot and red lentil soup, carrot ginger soup, butternut squash soup with orange.
Which chestnuts are edible?
When foraging for chestnuts in the forest, make sure you pick only the edible ones for eating and cooking. The edible chestnuts come in a spine covered husk (also known as a burr) and mostly with 2 to 3 nuts together inside. They are triangular in shape and have a pointy ending. Horse chestnuts (or the non-edible ones) are round, have no pointy ending and come in a husk where the spines are more spaced out. More information can be found here and here.
Which ingredients to use
- Fresh chestnuts: For the best result with the most intense flavour, preferably use fresh uncooked chestnuts. You can either buy them during season in most grocery stores or go for a stroll in the forest and look for the freshest ones, with a shiny shell and that look and feel firm. Using fresh chestnuts will take more time (roasting and peeling), but the result will be worthwhile.
- Pre-packed chestnuts: When not in season, or when you cannot find fresh chestnuts in the forest or grocery store, you can use boiled and peeled chestnuts from a vacuum pack or from a can or even chestnut purée. The taste will definitely be different, but nonetheless still very delicious, and of course a big time saver.
- Cauliflower: Use a fresh cauliflower, which feels heavy, is packed with florets and free from brown spots. Use the florets for making the soup. If you cannot find a good quality cauliflower, use frozen cauliflower florets as an alternative.
- Onion and garlic: I use a white onion for a more intense depth of flavour combined with 2-3 cloves of garlic. Use more or less according to personal preference.
- Olive oil: To sweat the vegetables before boiling. You can use olive oil or any other cooking oil as to your preference.
- Vegetable stock: Either use freshly made vegetable (or even chicken) stock, or water with 2-3 stock cubes.
- Fresh thyme: Either use fresh or dried thyme. But for this chestnut cauliflower soup, fresh thyme provides the best aroma and taste. Add thyme in the beginning of the cooking as well as fresh thyme leaves for garnish.
- Salt and pepper: Apart from thyme, this soup only needs to be finished off with salt and pepper to taste. Preferably use freshly ground black pepper.
How to make chestnut soup with caulifower
Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
This cauliflower chestnut soup is so easy to make with minimal ingredients. Simple and delicious, yet to bring out the best and most intense flavour, this soup takes some time to prepare, that is, when using fresh and uncooked chestnuts. After the roasting and peeling of the chestnuts, most of the work is done and it’s just a question of waiting for the soup to slowly simmer.
- Prepare and roast the chestnuts:
With a sharp pairing knife, score the chestnuts by cutting a shallow x through the skin of the round side of the nut. Place a skillet on medium heat and add the chestnuts. Make sure the pan is large enough to fit all the chestnuts as they should all touch the base of the pan at the same time for equal roasting. Roast on medium heat for 15-20 minutes while stirring frequently to avoid burning. Read more here about roasting chestnuts at home, either in a pan or in the oven.
- Peel the chestnuts:
The cut x shape will open up during roasting making them easier to peel, but make sure to peel the nuts while still warm. To avoid burning your fingers, hold them with a dish towel while peeling with a sharp pairing knife. Peel the outer shell and preferably also the inner skin as this might taste bitter. However, it isn’t really a problem if the inner skin doesn’t come off completely as the chestnuts will be cooked and blended anyway. This will take some time, so be prepared for it. You can probably watch your favourite TV show while peeling the nuts.
- Prepare and sweat the vegetables:
Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic cloves and cut the cauliflower into florets. Heat some olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté the onion for a couple of minutes over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cauliflower florets and roasted chestnuts and continue cooking. Leave to caramelise the vegetables in order to build up maximum flavour.
- Simmer the soup:
Pour in the vegetable stock with the fresh thyme leaves and bring to a boil. Once the liquid boils, turn down the heat, cover with a lid and leave to simmer until the cauliflower, onions and chestnuts are soft. Use a sharp knife or fork to test if everything is tender and soft.
- Blend the soup:
Blend the soup by using an immersion mixer or pour everything in to a kitchen blender and give it a good whirl. This is the part where you give the soup its creamy, velvety texture, so keep blending until the liquid is nice and smooth. Add more liquid if it’s too thick for your liking. Serve the soup hot, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and garnish with fresh thyme leaves.
How to store chestnut soup
When making a larger batch of this chestnut with cauliflower soup you can keep it in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 days. Leave to cool before placing it in the fridge. But this chestnut soup can also easily be frozen. Again, leave to cool, put in a sealed container (preferably in smaller batches) and store in a 3 star deep freezer for up to 3 months. Place in the fridge a day before you intend eating it in order to thaw slowly and warm either in the microwave or in a pot on the stove on low heat.
Best way to serve Chestnut Soup
This chestnut soup recipe can be eaten as a light meal together with some crusty bread, croutons or oven-roasted chickpeas. It’s a perfect autumn or fall soup to cozy up with by the fire in order to warm yourself on a cold day.
However, this soup is also luscious enough to serve as a starter at a formal or festive meal or at any other such special occasion. Think Thanksgiving, weddings, Christmas, New Year etc. Use smaller portions when serving as a starter as this soup is quite filling, although you can make it more liquid, if necessary, by adding more stock.
More fall recipes to try
Fall or autumn is such a great time of year with the availability of lovely seasonal ingredients. Try out these other seasonal recipes:
- Chicken Normandy or French apple cider chicken
- Warm blue cheese and fig bruschetta
- Grilled halloumi salad with sweet potatoes
- Gorgonzola and pear salad
- Fresh fig and feta salad
- Mussels à la mariniere
- Mashed sweet potatoes with feta cheese
Cauliflower and chestnut soup
- 11 ounces (or 300 grams) chestnuts roasted and peeled
- 11 ounces (or 300 grams) cauliflower cut into florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups (or 1 litre) vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- seasalt to taste
- freshly ground back pepper to taste
For the roasted chestnuts
- Use a sharp pairing knife and make an x-shaped cut into the skin on the round side of each chestnut.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the scored chestnuts and dry roast for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Make sure the skillet is large enough so the chestnuts are not piled on top of one another but all touch the skillet at the same time.
- Transfer the roasted chestnuts in to a bowl then immediately start peeling the shells off while they're still warm. In order to not burn your fingers, hold the nuts with a dry dish towel. Set aside for later.
For the soup
- Heat some olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, cauliflower florets and peeled chestnuts and cook for another 4 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add the vegetable stock and fresh thyme leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes, then take out a few chestnuts for to use for garnish later.
- Transfer the soup in to a kitchen blender or use an immersion blender. Mix the soup until smooth.
- Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped chestnuts (already cooked) and fresh thyme leaves.