I met Clement Faugier in the imported goods aisle at the Morton Williams grocery store. There he sat, nestled among jars of pesto and Dijon mustard. A bit dusty. A tad dented. Totally overpriced.
God, he was such a tease. Ten dollars. Ten dollars! For a can of chestnut puree. Sure, it was French, but still. And yet...I was hooked.
I was always sure to pay Clement a visit when I shopped, stopping by to pat him on his dusty tin head and checking to see that yes, he was still ten dollars for one tiny, tiny can. I'd spin him around, reading his French and English labels while doing quick calculations in my head then sighing and putting him back down in his little spot.
On the train ride home, I'd sit with my bags of practical pork chops and romaine, daydreaming about all the naughty sweet and savory things I'd like to do with Clement.
And then one day I gave in. I remember it was cold that night, and the air was starting to take on that permanent fall smell of damp leaves and witches' brooms. I wanted soup and all I could think about was that creamy chestnut puree. So I grabbed it and I tossed it into my basket along with some bacon and green apples and I turned them all into a sweetly rich fall soup.
And, just as I'd suspected, Clement was delicious.
Chestnut, Bacon, and Green Apple Soup
This recipe was inspired by a delicious post I read on Caviar and Codfish some time ago. I changed it around quite a bit, but thought you should know who gave me the idea in the first place. Note that you'll need an immersion (or regular) blender.
5 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 whole shallots, diced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 15.5 oz can of chestnut puree (or equivalent of homemade chestnut puree)
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced but not peeled
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper
In a large pot or dutch oven, fry the pieces of bacon until crisp. Remove from the pot and reserve.
Add the shallots and celery to the bacon fat and saute for a two minutes until soft and just slightly caramelized.
Add the chestnut puree and any liquid in the can,using the back of a wooden spoon to break up any lumps. Give it a good stir until it is well combined with the vegetables.
Add the apples and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil then lower to medium heat and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid reduces by about a third.
Use an immersion blender to process everything until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Add the cream and stir well until combined. Cook for two more minutes, stirring regularly until heated thoroughly and combined.
Check the seasoning again and serve garnished with crisped bacon.