This soup is one of those winter self-cooking, comforting dishes, that you let simmer on the stove for a couple of hours while you read, chat or relax on your sofa, on a Sunday afternoon.
It does need some planning though, as you’ll have to soak both beans and chestnuts in water for 24 hours.
A little note about the chestnuts: I used the dried ones as I found an excellent variety from Italy at my local grocery store. However, I must admit that very often, the quality of store-bought dried chestnuts is quite disappointing. So if they are in season like now, I suggest you to use the fresh ones, it’s worth the extra work of pealing them one by one!
Once your beans are soaked, rinse them very well under running water.
In a large pan, prepare the base for your soup, then add beans and chestnuts.
Cover with water and let it simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, or until nice and thick.
Add the salt just in the last 30 minutes and before serving, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil, fresh or dry chili, if you like it, and rosemary. (I used the last stem of my garden before the snow!). This soup is sooo easy to make, packed with proteins and fibers, and it’s perfect for cheering you up during the winter months!
BEANS AND CHESTNUTS SOUP
To prepare in advance
- 300 gr (1 + 2/3 cups) of dry beans of your choice, I used Italian borlotti beans
- 250 gr (1 and 1/2 cups) of excellent dried chestnuts, OR 500 gr of fresh ones
To cook the soup
- 1/2 cup of finely chopped celery
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 1 medium-sized carrot
- 1 big clove of garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
To serve and garnish
- fresh chili and rosemary
1. The day before
Soak the beans and the dried chestnuts (if you use them) for 18 to 24 hours in cold water.
2. Before you start cooking the soup
– If you are using dried chestnuts: rinse well beans and chestnuts in a colander under running water and keep them aside.
– If you are using fresh chestnuts: preheat the oven at 200°C (400 °F). Slash each chestnut across the curved side. Place all chestnuts on a baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes until the cuts are nice and open and the inside becomes tender. Take them out and wrap them in a slightly humid clean kitchen towel, until they are cold enough to be handled. Then peel them also removing the skin.
3. Prepare the base of veggies
Finely chop all the veggies (I used a basic mix, but you could add mushrooms, pumpkin…..and whatever you like!). Warm-up a generous splash of evoo in a large, heavy-based pan over medium-high heat, then add the chopped veggies and gently stir fry until tender. Add the prepared beans and chestnuts, cover with water (2 cm / 1 inch on the top of the beans) and let simmer for about 2 hours or until nice and thick. In the last 30 minutes, add some salt.
4. Finish and serve
Before serving the soup, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil, fresh chili (if you like it) and rosemary to each portion.