I have to admit: I don’t always like recipes with tons and tons of ingredients. It is good to keep things simple most of the time. However, there are moments when you want a perfect flavour festival going on inside your mouth and stomach, and this soup is just the one for that purpose.
The soup’s leading star is puy lentil. This beautiful French lentil with its own delicate yet strong taste is so irresistible that I feel like I have to cook a puy lentil dish at least once every week! Plus, it is very good for your health: being full of folic acid and magnesium, it’s good for your heart; it is full of finer which helps with prevention of constipation or gut infections along with other benefits; it is rich with potassium which strengthens your body against kidney stones; the presence of good amount of proteins in it boosts immunity; protects your skin from the harsh rays of sun (which is not a very big deal in Finland actually, hehe) and it has many more other benefits! For another gluten free puy lentil soup that I put in the blog before, click here.
On the other hand, fennel is another health bomb ingredient in this soup. Being full of vitamins and minerals, fennel is very good for bone health, blood pressure, heart, cancer prevention, immunity boost, digestion, premenstrual syndrome (oh yes, ladies ^^), skin, and many many more things related to a healthy body and mind!
And then, there is a good amount of chestnuts in the soup! Now, it may sound weird to see chestnuts in a soup, but I assure you, it adds a really nice twist and a bit of sweetness to the recipe. Plus, chestnuts are delicious in any dish so there is no harm in adding them in your soup, right? I adapted this recipe from The Bojon Gourmet website, and she used fresh, raw chestnuts. There aren’t really good chestnuts around here in Finland, so I decided to use canned whole chestnuts for this recipe, which also made it so much easier. In Helsinki, you can find whole canned chestnuts in many places, for example in Stockmann and in DeliDeli shop in Hakaniemen Kauppahalli.
Another thing I changed from the original recipe was to leave out celery leaves. There weren’t many leaves in the celery stalk package I bought anyway, but the real reason is that I didn’t want all-things-celery in it. There is already a good amount celery stalk in the soup anyway.
Ok, so here is a hearty and rich soup for your winter (or autumn) days. They say winter is going away soon and spring is coming, but I don’t see this change anywhere in Helsinki yet! Fingers crossed though!
Difficulty: ★★☆ (Medium)
(serves 4-6, you can make the soup 1-2 days ahead, it gets better each day – just keep it in an airtight container in the fridge)
The soup base:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced finely
2 medium size carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
A couple of sprigs of thyme (alternatively, you can use 1-2 tsp of dried thyme)
190 gr. / 1 cup / 2.4 dl puy lentils
1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
The chestnut part:
1 can whole chestnuts (about 265-280 gr chestnuts)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed with mortar and pestle
1 tsp thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup / 1.2 dl dry white wine
Serve with (optional):
GF croutons, parsley, drizzle of olive oil
1. In a soup pot (my pot in the photo is 2.5 lt) put olive oil and warm it on medium high heat for about half a minute. Add onions and sauté for a couple of minutes.
2. Add fennel, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables get tender.
3. Add fennel seeds, oregano, bay leaf and thyme and continue cooking, again by stirring frequently, for about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add lentils, salt and 1.5 lt of warm water. Stir and bring to a boil. After boiling, turn the heat down for a gentle simmer and continue cooking for 40 minutes.
5. When the soup base is finishing its cooking time, prepare the chestnuts. In a pan, add olive oil and warm on medium high heat for about a minute. Add chestnuts and sauté the chestnuts by stirring frequently for a couple of minutes.
6. Add crushed fennel seeds, thyme and salt and continue cooking by stirring for about 2 more minutes.
7. Add tomato paste and mix it well with the ingredients in the pan. Add white wine, stir and continue cooking until about half of the wine evaporates. When done, take it away from the heat.
8. Return back to your soup pot. Discard the bay leaf. Add chestnut mixture, stir and simmer the soup for 5 minutes, on a gentle heat, together with all the ingredients. When cooked, take away from the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let it rest for about 10 minutes at least. Serve with croutons, fresh parsley leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!