This recipe was sent to me almost a decade ago by my Aunt. It was from the February 2001 issue of Food & Wine Magazine, and credited to Alex Urena, executive chef of Manhattan’s Blue Hill Restaurant.

Servings: 2 to 4

3 tablespoons canola oil
One 14-ounce vacuum-packed jar of cooked and peeled chestnuts (2 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium leek, white and tender green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 teaspoons honey
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons Cognac or brandy
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add 4 of the chestnuts and sauté over moderately high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Add the onion and leek to the pan, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the honey and stir until melted. Stir in the remaining chestnuts and the stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer over moderate heat for 10 minutes.

2. Finely chop the sautéed chestnuts. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth, or use an immersion blender right in the pot. If you like, strain through a fine sieve (although I prefer it thicker). Season the soup with salt and pepper and stir in the Cognac. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls. Garnish with the chopped chestnuts and parsley and serve.

Note: I garnished with spiced heavy cream and balsamic glaze instead of the parsley. For the cream, I used ½ C whipping cream, and added a few pinches each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and sugar, then whisked it till thickened. For the balsamic glaze, I reduced a pint of balsamic vinegar reduced slooooowly (at a simmer) in a heavy saucepan down to ½ C. It takes hours and the house smells, but it’s lovely stuff J. I put them in squeeze bottles (the kind you get to put your shampoo in while traveling) in order to drizzle them on the way I did. Or… you can buy Balsamic Glaze already made 😉

Make Ahead: The chestnut soup can be refrigerated overnight. Garnish with the sautéed chestnuts and parsley before serving.


  1. this looks gorgeous, was it on the lovely Thanksgiving menu? hope it was fun and filled with laughter and love with friends and fam. xx

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