Not everyone serves soup at thanksgiving but why not? Serve as an appetizers with drinks in small individual bowls or shot glasses or add soup to your menu as the only plated first course on your table. The Chestnut soup below is a nice addition especially if you include chopped chestnuts to your stuffing. Enjoy.

Soup 1 : Roasted Thai Butternut squash and Carrot soup

Ingredients/ serves 6-8 people

  • 1 Butternut squash, about 2-lbs
  • 1 lb organic carrots, peeled and chop in 1inch chunks
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth) & 1 to 2 cups water
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, Bottom white thicker part, skin remove and crushed to release the natural oils
  • 1 can coconut milk and a 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • Sea salt and Pepper
  • Optional Thai Fish Sauce

Optional Garnish: Toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped cilantro, salted peanuts, hot thinly sliced thai chili and lime wedges

Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Cut the squash in half, scoop the seeds/fibers and discard. Season with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. Roast face up for about 40-45 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

In the meantime. In a soup pot over medium heat, warm 1 tbsp of Coconut oil; add the chopped onion, sauté for 2 minutes then add the chopped carrots. Along with the lemongrass stalk. Sauté until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the stock and bring to gentle boil until the carrots are soft. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20mn.

Once the butternut squash is ready and cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh. Add the carrots mixture, roasted squash, some cooking liquid and the coconut milk into a blender…Mix into two batches if necessary. Blend until smooth, taste and adjust the seasoning. Adding cooking liquid and extra water if necessary to your desired consistency.

Set aside and repeat with another batch.

Tip: Make in advance (1-2 days) reheat gently on the stove may have to add extra liquid as it will thicken overnight. Taste and adjust your seasoning as you add more liquid…You can add a splash of Thai fish sauce instead of salt.

For the optional garnish: Toast slightly on a flat baking sheet, ½ cup of unsweetened coconut flakes. about 5 minutes in a preheated 350F over. Upon serving the soup in individuals bowls, dust to top of each soup with the coconut flakes, peanuts, chopped cilantro, a slice or two of thai hot chili and limes wedges on the side.

Soup 2 : Silky Chestnut Soup

Ingredients/ serves 6 to 8 people

  • 4 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 1 medium carrot chopped
  • 1 celery rib chopped
  • ½ a medium onion chopped
  • 2 cups cooked chestnut from a 16oz jar of cooked chestnut (available at William Sonoma or Whole Foods)
  • 3 sprigs of Thyme
  • 1 cup of Ruby port
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup of heavy cream ( which can be replaced with silken tofu for a low fat option or dairy free)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Warm the Olive oil gently in a medium saucepan.  Add the carrot, celery and onion and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the chestnuts and cook for about 4 minutes.  Add the port and thyme sprigs and cook over medium heat until the port is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Cover partially and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprigs.   Insert an immersion blender into the soup and purée it or transfer to a blender and Purée.   Return soup to a simmer, add the ¼ cup cream (or silken tofu) to the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Check the consistency-adding a little more cream if necessary.

For the guanciale or bacon: Chop in bite pieces and brown gently over a medium heat pan until fat rendered and crisp. Drain and reserve on paper towel until serving time.

Note; Guanciale is a Italian naturally cured bacon prepared from pork jowls or cheeks..its unique curing spices and flavor add a different touch of depthness to dishes and as you rendered it, you are left with wonderfully crisp and tasty pieces of goodness which add texture to this silky soup.

Tip; Again, make the soup 1-2 days ahead, warm over gentle heat and check the consistency as it will have thicken.

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