Kurt's Chestnut Soup

OK, I know. I cheated. But I have a great excuse: unpacking from the move. Still, I wanted to share this with you before Christmas. A brief respite, if you will, from my cookie recipes.

When my daughter gave me Kurt Gutenbrunner's cookbook last year, I immediately wanted to make his apple strudel.

She said oh no, make his chestnut soup first, it's ambrosial. I meant to make it for you this December, I really did, but while I was in NYC recently, we went to Wallsé for dinner and I ordered it. And took a (not very good) photo with my cell phone. It was the easy way out when I'm so busy.  
Of course, Tracy was right, the soup was divine. She and Kurt have been friends for quite a while and Tracy's held several gallery opening night dinners at his restaurant.

Kurt has several restaurants, one right across the street from where she lives, Blaue Gans, on Duane Street in TriBeCa. She eats there regularly and I've been there too, but this trip, she treated me to a meal at Wallsé
. Double yum. As I have the cookbook, I'll share the recipe and the photo I took of the soup and hope you'll forgive me for bending the foodie rules by not actually making it myself. Next year, I swear I'll make it at home and let you know if mine turned out as well. (I very much doubt it.)

Chestnut-Soup Viennese Melange With Black Truffles
Courtesy of Kurt Gutenbrunner

3/4 cup armagnac or cognac
8 whole pitted prunes
12 ounces button mushrooms, washed
2 dried porcini mushrooms or other flavorful dried mushrooms
1 pound fresh peeled chestnuts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-size celery root, peeled, dark spots removed, and diced
Salt and white pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups skim milk, hot
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 fresh black truffle (optional) 

8 parsley leaves

Early in the day or the night before, put the armagnac, prunes, and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover the pan, and allow the prunes to steep for 6 hours or overnight. (The prunes can be refrigerated in an airtight jar for a week.)
Put the button mushrooms in a saucepan, cover with water, and simmer for 1 hour. Remove and discard the mushrooms (there should be at least 1 cup of juice). Pulverize the dried porcini mushrooms in a coffee grinder.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With a sharp paring knife, cut an X into the flat side of each chestnut. Place the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast in the middle of the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the shell curls. Remove from oven, and allow to cool. Peel and discard the shells, reserving the chestnuts.
Melt the butter over low heat in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the celery root, and cook gently for 5 minutes without browning. Add the peeled chestnuts, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the sugar, increase the heat, and cook for a few minutes, until the mixture caramelizes. Add the remaining armagnac and cook for a minute. Pour in the reserved mushroom juice and the chicken stock, reduce the heat, and cook slowly for 15 minutes. Add the cream, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer soup to a blender in batches, and purée thoroughly for several minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain purée through a fine sieve, and reheat. (Can be made up to this point a day in advance and refrigerated.)Place 1 room-temperature drained prune in each of 8 soup bowls. Put the milk in a tall, slender container, and add ı teaspoon of the porcini powder and the nutmeg. Using a nozzle on an espresso machine or a separate foaming device, foam the hot milk. Divide the soup among the soup bowls, and top with a scoop of the foam, a shaving of black truffle, if desired, and a parsley leaf. Serve immediately.


  1. I'd love to visit one of his places if that soup is an indication, it looks delicious.

  2. This sounds wonderful, and I totally forgive you for breaking the foodie rule. I break it all the time!

  3. What a lovely girl!

    Love the look of the book..the place..You must have a ball when you visit..
    Ok you can go unpack some more now..

  4. You are allowed to cheat a little. It was interesting to read about this cookbook,chef and restaurant.

  5. I can imagine that this soup is delicious. Cognac, prunes, chestnuts celery root, what a combination of flavors.

  6. A delicious and refined soup! What wonderful flavors.



  7. Hi Barbara!

    I'm thinking the move is still in progress. Hope all is going well:)

    That soup looks absolutely "divine" and I absolutely LOVE that picture!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  8. I've been meaning to experiment with chestnuts more and this is far and above the place to start!

  9. Since we are approaching Christmas I have chestnuts in my fridge. This soup looks like the perfect way to use them!

  10. I've been so curious about this cookbook. It sounds great! The chestnut soup looks lovely too. That foam on top is fantastic.

  11. Yum!! That sounds heavenly... Hope the move is going well.

  12. When life is bust we are allowed little shortcuts, besides food always seems to taste better when someone else makes it!!

  13. I'm amazed you have the time to post anything, Barbara, with your move. I'll take the shortcut, though :) This looks delicious!

  14. Barbara this souo ll! :)ng anx delicious. Love chestnut. ..ant the cook book sounds wonderful!!

  15. thank you for posting such a stupendous recipe. with armagnac! prunes! porcini! divine.
    I have enjoyed chestnut soup on rare occasions. Had one at a fine restaurant that was garnished with slices of fig.

  16. Uggh moving is never fun. You are totally allowed to cheat because of it:-)

  17. Thanks for this super tasty looking chestnut soup.

    The chef & the restaurant looks stunning! A lovely & very festive soup!

  18. great recipe and she looks like you :-) its so lovely that you get to enjoy with her, hope I will be doing this with J in future

  19. It's so cool se got to meet him!

  20. Looks yummy..what a lovely place! Happy moving!
    I really do want a few of your cookie recipes though! xoxoox

  21. Cooking with chestnut seems so exotic!

    And this is such a busy time of year, I think we're all permitted to take a few shortcuts.

  22. Well that sounds outstanding and I've been on the hunt for a good chestnut soup!

  23. What a wonderful ingredient to cook with :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  24. i don't think ive ever ingested a chestnut or anything chestnut-flavored. i'll bet they're tasty and this soup looks lovely!

  25. I've been dying to visit Wallse and probably won't be able to do so for some time. This recipe will more than make up for it. The soup looks incredibly creamy and silky.

  26. This soup sounds absolutely fantastic. I've have two chestnut soups in my life, they were both delicious and so unusual. Thanks for posting!



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