Chestnuts and Bacon!

Here is a recipe for a yummy winter soup.  And, if you’d rather have a vegetarian version, simply omit the bacon (not an option that I will be exploring).  Yum!

Creamy Chestnut and Bacon Soup

3 Tablespoons of butter, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped bacon
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 to 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup, peeled and finely chopped celery
2-1/2 cups of finely chopped mixed mushrooms (shitake, cremini, oyster, button)
2 to 2-1/4 cups of shelled, roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped
5 cups chicken stock, divided
1/4 cup cognac or  brandy
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup of half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon of white pepper

1.  In a large, heavy bottom soup pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat, melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter.  Add the bacon and cook until softened but not browned (about 5 minutes).

2.  Add the shallots, carrots, and celery and cook until tender (about 10 minutes).  With a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables and bacon to a bowl, leaving the tasty fat and butter in the pot.

3.  Add the rest of the butter, mushrooms, and chestnuts to the pot.  Continue to cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have softened somewhat (about 5 minutes).

4.  Add about 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and put the vegetables and bacon back into the pot.  Stir to blend.

5.  Add the cognac and cook until the alcohol has burned off (a couple of minutes).

6.  Add the herbs and the rest of the chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often.

7.  In a blender, puree the soup until smooth and return to the pot.  Stir in the cream and add the pepper.  Serve.

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