Good Mood Food: Chestnut Soup

Not sure what to do with all those chestnuts you roasted over an open fire? This rich and creamy chestnut soup makes a stunning and festive appetizer for Christmas or a seasonal weeknight main.

Rich and creamy chestnut soup makes the perfect appetizer for Christmas!

Chestnuuuuts simmering in an open pot...

^^^ See what I did there?? ???

This bowl of creamy chestnut soup will give you all the Christmas feels...and probably get that song stuck in your head for the next 72 hours. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Is there anything that evokes a sense of nostalgia more than food? And I could use a little extra holiday nostalgia this year. It really doesn't feel like Christmas, and not just because it's almost 80 degrees out. Since we left for Hawaii on Thanksgiving, we kinda missed the whole kickoff to the holiday season. Not that I'm complaining. If you can't have stuffing, the best sushi in Hawaii ain't a bad second place.

It hit me a few days ago that last year was probably my last 'normal' Christmas. You know, the kind where the entire family is together, you're in the house you grew up in, and even though you're in your thirties, you're still treated as the kid. The hubs and I both come from families where Christmas is a huge celebration and since our parents live too far apart to do both houses in one day, we switch off years. Two years ago, I thought it would be really hard spending my first Christmas away from my family, but after staying up late drinking wine together, wearing matching PJs (yes, really), it felt like home.

This year, we're just doing a small Christmas since everyone just got back from Hawaii and my sister-in-law's wedding, and sadly, we won't have the whole family together either. And next year, my parents are planning on moving, so I have no clue where we'll be celebrating it. Then of course, my siblings will probably start having kids and (prepare yourself for some serious brattiness), Christmas will start revolving around them. As we were decorating our sad looking tree because (more brattiness ahead), the hubs made me get one small tree instead of two big trees, we realized pretty soon, it might just be us for Christmas. Now we're trying to think of traditions for just the two of us. Help wanted! Please comment with any ideas!

Creamy vegetarian chestnut soup

Recognizing my need for some Christmas spirit, I've decided to fully commit my kitchen to only baking Christmas cookies until December 25th. Kidding! But I am whipping up all the seasonal fare, despite the t-shirt and shorts weather outside.

Chestnuts seem like such a Christmas-y food, even though I had only had them chopped up and tossed into Thanksgiving stuffing. That was, until I tried this incredible chestnut soup when I was in France last year. Thick and rich with a unique, nutty flavor, topped with a savory whipped cream, I seriously still have dreams about that soup!

Get in the Christmas spirit with this rich and decadent tasting chestnut soup!

Isn't it funny how nostalgic, comfort food can instantly transform your mood? Comfort food gets a bad rep, and certainly emotional eating on the regular is a problem, but sometimes food can provide you with you the comfort you need, whether you're struggling through, real or imaginary problems (like being a brat about Christmas). The smell of chestnut soup simmering in the kitchen definitely made me forget about the lack of snow anywhere on the east coast!

Chestnuts could also boost your mood in other ways as well:

  • Chestnuts are different from other nuts nutritionally in that they are relatively low in protein and fat, and rich in complex carbohydrates. This lends them a starchy flavor and texture, where they can easily be used in place of or with starchy vegetables in a meal. It also means chestnuts are a great source of sustainable energy.
  • Chestnuts are a surprising source of vitamin C, with about 50% your daily needs in a 3 ounce serving. Vitamin C plays an important role modulating communication in the brain and preventing oxidative damage in the brain.
  • Chestnuts also contain a hefty dose of folate. Higher levels of folate is associated with lower rates of depression and negative mood. It's also been linked to better memory and cognition.
  • Magnesium deficiency has been linked to depression, fatigue, anxiety and ADHD. Studies have shown up to 70% of Americans aren't getting enough of this important nutrient. This recipe contains about 15% your daily needs of the mineral.

[Tweet "Get in the #Christmas spirit with this creamy chestnut soup! "]

This soup would make an elegant appetizer for a holiday meal, or serve it as a main course, paired with whole grain bread and a small cheese board, or paired with a hearty salad. For this recipe, I used precooked chestnuts from Trader Joe's, but feel free to roast your own if you feel so inclined!

Chestnut Soup
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: Serves 4 as a main, 8 as an appetizer
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 13 ounces pre-roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • ¼ cup half and half or heavy cream
  • Grated fresh nutmeg, for serving
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley or chives, for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large soup pot. Add celery, onion, and carrot and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaf and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Uncover and add chestnuts and red wine. Simmer 5 more minutes. Carefully remove bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree until creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in half and half or cream.
  3. Divide soup between bowls. Garnish with grated fresh nutmeg, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh parsley or chives.

More seasonal comfort foods: 

Eggplant Timballo with Spicy Sausage, Artichokes and Peas

Pumpkin Coconut Dark Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding

Polenta Vegetarian Lasagna with Kale and Butternut Squash