a creamy roasted chestnut soup topped with buttery mushrooms & fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Use a small, sharp paring knife to score the chestnuts, cutting a small X on the rounded side of the chestnut. Once scored, place the chestnuts in a mixing bowl. Drizzle them with a generous amount of olive oil to coat them well. Strip the leaves off the thyme sprigs into the bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Toss the chestnuts until fully incorporated. Spread the chestnuts onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast the chestnuts, X side up, for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 425°F and continue to roast for 10 more minutes.
Let the chestnuts cool slightly so that they are cool enough to handle, but still warm. Peel the chestnuts, discarding the ones that have turned bad. You will need 8 ounces of peeled chestnuts for the soup.
Heat a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Add the butter and let melt. Add the leeks. Saute for a few minutes until tender. Add the parsnips and chestnuts. Stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper. Deglaze the pan with the cooking sherry. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and fresh thyme. Bring the soup to a simmer. Cover the pot and let simmer for about 35 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs.
Working in two batches, ladle the soup into a blender. Blend each batch of soup for 1 minute, or until completely smooth. Pour the soup into a large bowl or another pot. Stir in the cream. Season with salt to taste. Keep warm.
Meanwhile heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and bring to a sizzle. Add the mushrooms. Saute for about 4-5 minutes until golden and tender. Season with salt to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Add a spoonful of mushrooms on top of the soup. Drizzle in a touch of heavy cream. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and freshly cracked black pepper.