Chestnut and Butternut Squash Soup
Chestnuts provide a velvety texture, mild sweetness and crunchy topping to this hearty, yet elegant soup. For an equally satisfying, vegetarian version of this wonderful soup, simply omit the bacon and crème fraîche and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock.
Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat and fry the bacon for 2 minutes, or until about 2 tsp of the fat has rendered. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on a small baking sheet.
Thinly slice 8 - 10 of the chestnuts and place on the sheet pan with the bacon.
Coarsely chop the remaining chestnuts and add to the saucepan with squash, onion and garlic. Sautee over medium heat for 10 minutes, then add the chicken stock and water.
Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and continue to simmer rapidly for 20 - 30 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add half of the crème fraîche and blend to a smooth purée using an immersible blender or food processor. Add the rosemary, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the bacon and sliced chestnuts under a hot broiler for 3-4 minutes until they become slightly crispy. Be careful that the chestnuts do not burn.
Add the rosemary to the soup, and garnish with the bacon & sliced chestnuts and a swirl of the reserved crème fraîche.