Parsley Root & Chestnut Soup with Bacon Relish and Crisp Croutons

by Michael on November 14, 2012 · 19 comments

There is a stillness of life in the middle of the night that can be heard for miles and the ensuing silence is frightening. As we lay awake and watch the stars shine bright and dance across the coal-coloured sky, the slightest noise catches our attention. The thirty foot oak trees out back sway as the wind picks up and gains speed, the remaining leaves on the ground chased down the street. It sounds like a storm is rolling in.  Even though the forecast looks clear, I lay there secretly hoping for snow in the morning.

The arrival of snow is inevitable but I’m anxious. There is something magical about witnessing the first snowfall of the season. It sends me hurrying back in my mind to a time when I went barreling out the door at the first sign of snow. It has always meant something special and invokes memories spanning my lifetime. It also signals the first breath of Christmas and the holidays.

I’m ready for everything it brings. It signifies a shift in attitudes with everyone you meet. It brings renewed hope and contact with your neighbours when they shovel or the kids take advantage of snow days and snow fights.  It also means a few things inside our home. The fireplace roars and cracks through the evening, warming up every inch of the household, carols playing on the television  and extra time spent in the kitchen. The snow means baking, but it also means the soup’s on. Big pots to warm our bones during the cold days and longer nights.

For as long back as I can remember the cold air and snowfall brought our family around the table, hovered over a big pot of soup. And to this day I still turn to a pot of soup to bring us together and warm us up. My wife has her favourites but from time to time I like to switch things up and try something new. I get away and spend some time in the kitchen building flavour and allowing the soup to simmer away until the entire house smells amazing. Sometimes hours on the stove until the taste is just right.

The other day, which was seasonably cold, I put together this soup. And I’m so glad I did. It was subtle and simple and yet every bit as delicious as the soups we normally enjoy. It’s perfect for the cold weather to come and to bring your own family around the table together.

From my kitchen to yours,

Michael

 

Parsley Root & Chestnut Soup with Bacon Relish and Crisp Croutons

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large parsley root, peeled and diced 
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1/2 fennel, chopped
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 chestnuts
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tbsp. thyme, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • coarse salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 small baguette, cut into big chunks
  • bacon relish, recipe below
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Cut an X on the flat side of each chestnut, making sure to cut all the way through the skin. Place the chestnuts on a baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and peel when they are cool enough to handle. Reserve 3 of them as part of the garnish.
  2. Coat a large pot with the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the parsley root, celery, fennel, leek, onion and garlic. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until softened. Add the thyme, bay leaf, chestnuts, vegetable stock and water. Season. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the bay leaf and remove from heat.
  3. Puree the soup with a blender. Strain through a fine sieve into a large pot.  Add heavy cream and season to taste and stir to combine.  Bring back to a simmer.
  4. While the soup is simmering, go ahead and make your croutons. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the baguette chunks and cook for 2-3 minutes or until toasted.
  5. Serve the soup with toasted croutons, bacon relish and chopped chestnuts.
  6. Serves 6.
Bacon Relish
  • 1/2 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 4 sage leaves, minced
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
Directions:
  1. Cook bacon over medium heat until it’s just starts to get crisp. Remove and strain fat, reserving a tablespoon of bacon fat and the bacon. Place the  fat into saute pan over low heat and add in the onion, garlic, thyme sage and brown sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion is softened. Add the bacon back in. Add in a splash of water and scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in the syrup and cook for 12 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Place in a bowl and let cool. 

 

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Denise November 15, 2012 at 12:03 am

Lovely. I have been wondering what you were going to do with those gorgeous parsley roots. You definitely drew us into winter with this hearty recipe. I have been playing with a parsley inspired soup, minus the parsley root. I tend to toss pieces into mashed potatoes but have not thought of adding to the soup I have been playing with. Inspired to trek back to the market now … or at least in the morning.

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Isabelle @ Crumb November 15, 2012 at 10:52 am

I can’t say I’m looking forward to the first snow, but I do agree that it’s inevitable…. just like death and taxes, as they say. ;)
This soup looks like just the thing to combat the cold, though… I love the pairing of parsley root and chestnut, especially with the addition of smoky bacon. I think this just might make an appearance in my kitchen this weekend, assuming I can find some chestnuts.

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MOM November 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm

love soup this time of year and this one looks inviting… going to put a put on over the weekend but not a fan of snow!

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Shaina November 16, 2012 at 10:13 am

I have been on a definite soup craze the last few weeks. I’m adding this to the weekend list. The croutons and the bacon relish really help make this more of a meal than just a starter or accompaniment to something greater. Well done.

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Kimberley November 21, 2012 at 2:11 am

That soup, the light, your photos – stunning! And your thoughts on the turning of the season, and the first snow. That’s a thing I’m envious of.

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Tia November 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm

You are by far my favourite food blogger! I follow so many different bakers and cooks and am constantly inspired, but no other blog can I go to and drool over EVERY single post. I am lucky enough to be getting a new kitchen (which should be finished this weekend) and can’t wait to start trying out some of these fantastic dishes. Soups will definitely be my go-to for many of the upcoming winter days. Thank you for sharing all of your amazing recipes with the online world :)

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Michael November 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Wow. thanks so much Tia. I’m glad my little blog can inspire people to cook. I’m envious of your kitchen reno! I’m sure you’ll have lifelong memories from the food you create in that kitchen. Happy Thanksgiving to you! And thanks so much for the kind comment.

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Tia November 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I’m definitely looking forward to it. You’re very welcome!

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scarlett December 5, 2012 at 3:31 am

i’m so glad i stumbled upon your blog (through tastespotting)! that soup looks to die for. and i can’t get over the fact that you’re a GUY! i mean, your styling is so good, and it’s just impressive. keep up the work!
x
scarlett

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Michael December 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm

thanks scarlett. Cat’s out of the bag. I am in fact a guy. Glad you enjoy. Thanks for dropping me a note. Cheers and happy holidays!

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Amy Chidester February 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Just found your blog and would love to receive emails of your new posts. Thank you.

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Michael February 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Thank you Amy! There is an option to subscribe and receive emails on my front page. Just look near the upper right corner of my content area! Hope that helps.

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Sarah M November 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I found your blog just this week and was intrigued by this soup. So much so that I made a trip to the local market today and made a pot of it this evening. Delicious! I admit I was surprised by the subtlety of the soup given the strong flavors of everything that goes in it but I taste layers of different things and that’s perfect for a chilly fall evening. Thank you!

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Liisa November 21, 2013 at 4:51 am

Thanks for the super delicious bacon relish recipe! I made my own version with chorizo and it turned out pretty nice.

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