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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegan Vegetarian Recipes

The holiday season brings families together to bond over great food. Let's set the nostalgic scene with chilly nights and blustery days, crackling logs in the fireplace, your favorite holiday music on the stereo, presents wrapped in colorful paper, and tempting aromas from the kitchen that seem to waft throughout the whole house. Those beckoning aromas stir the curiosity and you wander into the kitchen to find a simmering soup kettle. Now what could that soup be? Smells delicious, but looks unfamiliar. You steal a little taste. It's great--mmmm, really good-----fabulous! Got to have that recipe!


While this unique, tantalizing soup is cooking, it sends waves of beckoning aromas so irresistible it just may become a holiday tradition at your house. For the best flavor, prepare the soup a day ahead, giving it plenty of time for the seasonings to fully develop. To reheat the soup, warm it gently over medium heat and stir frequently to avoid burning.

Cooking the chestnuts is the easy part. Peeling is the challenge. To make an uninspired task more pleasant, pour yourself a cup of herbal tea, bring one bowl to the table for the peelings and another for the peeled chestnuts. Then, get off your feet awhile, and peel away.

Fresh Chestnut Soup is one of the delicious recipes from Zel Allen's cookbook The Nut Gourmet: Nourishing Nuts for Every Occasion published by Book Publishing Company in 2006.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Chestnut 3 1/4 cups (.75 liters) water

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped,
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 serrano or jalapeno chile, minced

2 quarts (2 liters) unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 pounds (535g) fresh chestnuts in the shell, cooked and peeled, or 1 15-ounce jar (420g)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish

  1. Combine 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) of the water with the carrots, onion, celery, and chile in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Set aside.
  2. Combine the soymilk, nutritional yeast, salt, nutmeg, and tarragon in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Combine 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the water with the cornstarch in a small cup or bowl, and stir to make a thin paste. Add to the simmering soymilk and stir for 1 minute until it is well dissolved and the soup is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.
  4. Combine three-quarters of the cooked vegetable mixture, three-quarters of the prepared chestnuts, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water in the food processor and process until smooth. Add to the soup along with the remaining cooked vegetables.
  5. Chop the remaining chestnuts and add them to the soup. Heat gently to warm through and blend the flavors. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkling of the chives and serve.

Measuring Chestnuts:
A 15-ounce (420g) jar of cooked, peeled chestnuts contains about 2 1/2 cups (600 ml).

One pound of fresh chestnuts in the shell will make 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) peeled cooked chestnuts.

Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts:
With a firm-bladed paring knife, make crisscross cuts on both sides of each chestnut. Put the chestnuts into a 4-quart (4 liter) saucepan, cover with about 3-inches (7.5 cm) of water, cover the pot, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down slightly and boil gently for 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool the chestnuts slightly. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out about 3 or 4 chestnuts at a time into a small bowl, and use a paring knife to peel off the hard outer shell as well as the soft, thin, inner skin. Keeping the chestnuts warm makes it easier to remove the peel.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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