Chestnut, parsnip and orange soup

by sophie on January 4, 2008 · 20 comments

Post image for Chestnut, parsnip and orange soup

Soup is the perfect food for this time of year; suitably healthy if you ate a few too many mince pies but comforting enough to pacify those of you stuck with snow blizzards or malingering colds. This recipe is for my new favourite, a soup made with roast parsnips, chestnuts and finished off with fresh orange juice and a dollop of zesty, spiced yogurt.

Full bodied is the most fitting description I can conjure for this soup. My other half (the triathlete) raved about it for its deep, near meaty flavour and for myself, well I can’t resist a roast parsnip and the nutmeg, orange zest and yogurt topping adds that bit of freshness that I can’t help looking around for now that autumnal roasts and stews are starting to seem “so last year”.

Chestnuts are a funny old thing aren’t they? Delicious, but very different from your average nut and I couldn’t help but be intrigued about their composition. Chestnuts don’t have the typical nut benefits of high protein and heart healthy monounsaturated fat, but they do have plenty of fibre, and with hardly any fat (good or bad) they have massively less calories than your conventional nut. Pretty good for you, but strangely much closer in make-up to a parsnip than an almond.

I haven’t mustered up the courage/time to prepare my own chestnuts yet. Vacuum packed chestnuts work supremely well in this soup, though I am sure that freshly prepared would be even better. The tinned, whole chestnuts I tried in the second batch had less flavour and I have stuck to vacuum packed since. The soup is hearty enough to make a lunch without accompaniment but goes really well with walnut bread for a more substantial meal.

There isn’t too much you can do to make a soup unhealthy, just skip the butter and cream and go easy on any oil or cheese. Stock is potentially loaded with salt so use a low sodium stock if you can get a good one. If there are plenty of strong flavours going into the soup then it will do it no great harm to dilute the stock much more than the packet suggests. If you have your own tasty healthy soup recipe then blog it and send it to Joanna for her Heart of the Matter round-up of heart healthy soups (deadline 24th January).

Recipe for Chestnut, parsnip and orange soup

Serves 4

Makes four thick servings for hungry people but can be diluted to stretch a bit further. Note: it is much easier to grip hold of a whole orange to remove the zest and then cut it in half later!

For the soup
3 small/medium parsnips, peeled
200g pack roasted, ready-to-eat chestnuts
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 litre vegetable stock
4 Tbsp juice from a freshly squeezed orange
Freshly ground black pepper

For the spiced yogurt
Four tablespoons of thick, plain yogurt
Zest of half an orange
Freshly grated nutmeg

Heat the oven to 190 C, 375 F, Gas mark 5.

Cut the parsnips into roughly even sized chunks and toss in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden in colour.

Using a deep pan, saute the shallots and carrot in the remaining tablespoon of oil for about 15 minutes. Use a low heat so that they soften but do not colour. Add the chestnuts and cook on low for about another five minutes.

Once the parnsip are cooked add them to the shallots, carrots and chestnut. Add the stock and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Puree the soup with your blending equipment of choice (I use one of those hand blenders that you can stick straight into the soup pan). I like the soup to have a little bit of texture left in it.

Add the orange juice, taste and then season with black pepper.

If the soup is a little too thick add more hot water or stock.

Mix the spiced yogurt ingredients together. Top each bowl of soup with a dollop of yogurt just before serving.


Wendy January 5, 2008 at 08:05

Oh, this sounds wonderful. I’m a soup-o-holic at the best of times but in January it gets out of control!
Look forward to trying this out.

Christina January 5, 2008 at 17:52

What an interesting soup. Parsnips, chestnuts and orange … I’ve never heard of anything like it. Sounds like something I ought to try.

Nora January 5, 2008 at 23:11

Hi Sophie,
Happy new year! And thanks for dropping by my blog. Somehow I “lost” the link to your blog, so I am glad that I “found” you again. :-)
This soup sounds delicious. I just had some roasted chestnuts. They sell them freshly roasted at fruit shops here in Singapore. I can imagine the richness that the chestnuts would add to the soup minus the fats. I’ve not used orange juice in soup before and I am intrigued. It’s great to hera that your man raved about the soup. Maybe he might enjoy this one too:
Take care,

Annemarie January 6, 2008 at 00:15

I am *such* a sucker for soups (one recent comment on another soup post of mine threatened to dub me the soup queen) and I am really being lured by this. Really interesting combination, and I’ve vowed to use chestnuts as much as possible this season…

Julie O'Hara January 6, 2008 at 15:13

I love chestnuts and agree vacuum packed is better than canned. I don’t mind roasting them myself, but it’s the peeling that is a bit tedious.This soup sounds delish, especially with the addition of parsnips.

Deb January 7, 2008 at 22:32

Wow Sophie, this looks rich, creamy and very satisfying! But to tell you the truth, I have never had a chestnut in my life! Recently I have seen them in a jar at the grocery store and now they are catching my interest. I will have to see if they still are carrying them since the holidays are over. Nice photos!

Stef January 7, 2008 at 23:07

Sounds great! I had no idea you could buy vacuum packed chestnuts.

Susan from Food Blogga January 7, 2008 at 23:13

Oh, Sophie, this is a sensational combination of ingredients. I just made a cauliflower soup with chestnuts that I’ll be posting on in the near future, and I know what I’ll be doing with my leftover chestnuts!

Rosie January 8, 2008 at 16:21

Hi Sophie, I’ve just stummbled across your web site and I am so pleased I did!! Your soup sounds delicious and gosh I could just eat this now with some wholemeal bread mmmmmm….
Rosie x

Sam B. January 8, 2008 at 17:05

I have just finished making this, and my pregnant wife, on her way home from work, will be very very excited!
It’s really delicious; I couldn’t find the vacuum packed chestnuts – so I roasted my own. I usually put my soups through a sieve or chinois, but this was too perfect as a thick, hearty soup. Thanks very much for this recipe!

Johanna January 9, 2008 at 02:55

that looks absolutely divine – I just need some winter weather and a place to buy chestnuts – maybe this will be the inspiration I need to get me finding a shop selling chestnuts

Sophie January 9, 2008 at 09:07

Wendy – I enjoyed your January soup recipe too!
Christina – definitely worth giving this one a try I think. It’s easy but tastes really good, though I say it myself
Hi Nora – I had ‘lost’ your blog as well! I’m intrigued that you get roasted chestnuts in Singapore as it hadn’t occurred to me that you would have many chestnut trees
Annemarie – go on, give it a whirl, you know you want to!
Julie – I might try roasting the chestnuts next time just to taste the difference but I’m with you on this, most of the time it’s just too fiddly
Deb – a secret, just between us two – this is the first time I’ve cooked anything with chestnuts in it so you are in good company. I’m getting really into them now!
Hi Stef – in England vacuum packed is often all you can get. The supermarkets just tend to sell fresh as a seasonal novelty for the couple of weeks just before Christmas
Susan – cauliflower and chestnuts sounds great – I’ll look out for that
Rosie – welcome!
Sam B – I’m so pleased you tried this out and liked it – many thanks for letting me know that it turned out well! I hope your wife enjoyed it when she got home from work
Johanna – I always feel a bit bad posting very wintery recipes and knowing that they are completely wrong for you guys in Australia. But then I remember that you are merrily enjoying your lovely Summer :-)

Cassie January 9, 2008 at 21:24

What a beautiful bowl of soup, Sophie. Parsnips and chestnuts are plentiful in the markets right now and I’m thinking I’ll give this recipe a try!

Ann January 30, 2008 at 12:28

Oh, this looks lovely!

Cathy October 26, 2009 at 17:16

I finally got around to making this yesterday. It was a great fall dish and I really loved the orange in both the yogurt and the soup.

Julie October 8, 2010 at 22:02

I just made this, very good but I needed more and I didn’t double it, so I added more broth,
two cooked potatoes, two handfuls of sharp chedder cheese and some ground red pepper.
Yum!!! Hope my book club likes it.
Thanks for the recipe!

New Covent Garden Soup September 20, 2011 at 13:56

Hi Sophie!

Just wanted to say this looks like an absolutely awesome soup, and that we very much like what you’re doing here!

I don’t know if you’re aware, but we’ve recently started running a monthly competition for the Soup of the Month range that we produce. This month’s theme is Valentine’s day, but we have a whole host of themes coming up in the future.

We’d love you to check the site out, and would love it even more if you submitted a recipe to the comp (this one would be perfect!)

Many thanks :)


Janie P October 1, 2011 at 15:16

Wonderful soup – nicely textured – we used 750 ml stock and it was good for two hearty meals – don’t ne tempted to leave out the orange juice – it really lifts the flavour.

sophie October 13, 2011 at 16:20

Hi Janie – thanks so much for letting me know you’d tried this out and enjoyed the soup. I completely agree – the orange juice is what really makes the soup work!

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