Mushroom soup, French style. Chestnuts and cepes abound in Auvergne during the autumn harvest. Filling soups of chestnuts and mushrooms fresh from the harvest became an evening staple. Warming and nutritious, these soups are rich in the earthy flavors of the land. They can also be somewhat bland. Leave it to French cooks to find ways to showcase the magnificent ingredients, in this case topping the soup with crunchy chestnuts, walnuts, cepes, and ham. The resulting soup is about as far from your grandmother’s mushroom soup as one can get.
Cremeux de Cepes at Chataignes- Creamy Mushroom Soup with Walnuts and Chestnuts
- Instant Pot (if desired)
- Food processor
- 4 wings Chicken wings, in pieces
- 4 Medium new potatoes, peeled and halved
- 1 whole Onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp Butter
- 11 cups Water, 1 for base, rest for stock
- 2 Celery ribs, sliced
- 1 Bay leaf
- 10 Juniper berries, bruised
- 1 pinch Ground cinnamon
- ½ oz Dried French cepes or Italian porcini
- 1 lb Peeled roasted chestnuts
- ¼ cup Walnut Pieces
- 1½ oz Ham; jambon de Bayonne or Prosciutto, slivered
- 1 cup Heavy cream
- 1 tbsp Flat-leaf parsley, fresh or dry, chopped
- 1 tbsp Tarragon, fresh or dry, chopped
- 2 Lemons, quartered
- 2-3 tbsp Walnut oil
- Make soup base. Place broken-up chicken wings, onion, potatoes (if using), and ½ the butter in a heavy sauce pan and slowly allow contents to brown. Add 1 cup water and deglaze bottom of pan. Add celery, bay leaf, juniper berries, cinnamon, and 2½ quarts (10 cups) water. Bring to a boil, skimming. Season with salt and pepper. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
- Soak cepes/porcinis in 1 cup hot water until soft. Strain through a coffee filter ( (flavorful but gritty). Reserve soaking liquid and finely dice mushrooms.
- In a blender or food processor, grind 2 cups chestnuts (or Pecans/Hazelnuts, if substituting) with cream and reserved mushroom soaking liquid until smooth. Roughly chop walnuts and remaining chestnuts. set aside.
- Remove soup base from heat and with a slotted spoon, remove chicken bones, juniper berries and celery. Discard. Add the chestnut puree and simmer another 30 minutes. When done, press the soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
- Bring soup to boiling, adding a little water if it seems too thick. Season with salt and pepper.
- To serve, Sautee the chopped cepes/porcinis, nuts, and ham in remaining butter over medium heat until golden brown. 5 minutes or less. Ladle hot soup into bowls, top with mushroom mixture, and garnish with parsley and tarragon. Add a dash of walnut oil and serve with lemon quarters.
- Instant Pot version – use Instant Pot on SAUTEE to brown and deglaze. Add remaining ingredients and use PRESSURE COOK for 20 minutes with natural release. When cooled, remove bones, berries and celery, add chestnut puree and PRESSURE COOK for 10 minutes, release pressure when done. Strain the soup into a bowl or sauce pan. Soup can be stored and reheated in I.P bowl if desired (BOIL) or just use a saucepan to reheat and serve.
- Soup base can be made a day-or-two in advance.
- Adding a splash of walnut oil before serving adds a refreshing touch but is not critical.