Schmidt’s Chestnut and Sherry Soup

Schmidt’s Chestnut and Sherry Soup
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, sliced thin
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup amontillado or cream sherry
  • 8 large cloves of garlic, sliced paper thin on a mandoline
  • 1 tablespoon mild paprika
  • 4 large onions, diced fine
  • 1 pound of cleaned chestnuts
  • 10 cups vegetable stock (recipe below)
  • 1 bunch of parsley stems
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 3 springs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (no fat is ok too)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, cleaned

In a large, heavy skillet heat half of the olive oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms to cover the bottom of the pan without overcrowding. Cook until evenly golden, about 8 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little of the sherry and transfer to your soup or stock pot. Repeat as necessary with the remaining mushrooms. Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic cooking just until tender, about 2 minutes. Immediately add the paprika and onions cooking until tender, about 8–12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium high and continue cooking until the onions are well browned and caramelized. Transfer to the soup pot. Add 1 cup of the stock to the skillet to loosen the pan juices and transfer to the soup pot.

Add the chestnuts and remaining stock to the soup pot and place on high heat. Bring to a short boil and turn down to a simmer. Make a spice bag from cheesecloth enclosing the parsley stems, peppercorns and bay leaves, adding to the soup. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary. Simmer the soup until the flavor develops, about 45 minutes to an hour. Transfer the soup in batches to a blender, discarding the spice bag. Leave the vent hole open to allow for escaping hot air, cover with a kitchen towel, then carefully pulse just until puréed smooth. Transfer to a fine sieve and strain into another pot. Repeat with the remainder of the soup. Stir in the remaining sherry and adjust the seasoning as necessary with salt and pepper to your taste. Reserve under refrigeration for up to a couple day prior to serving. In a small bowl combine almost all of the chives with the sour cream. Reserve.

To serve: Heat the soup. Ladle into your warm rimmed soup plates. Garnish with a dollop of herbed sour cream in the center of the soup. Sprinkle with the remaining chives and pomegranate seeds.

Schmidt’s vegetable stock

  • 2 large leeks, cleaned of sand and diced
  • 4 large onions, diced
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 4 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 4 quarts (or more) water
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns

Combine the vegetables with the water in an 8 quart or larger stockpot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, skimming the surface. Add parsley stems, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Return to a simmer and cook for four hours, adding more water if necessary to keep the ingredients covered. Strain through a fine sieve. Refrigerate. This can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Chef Jimmy Schmidt
Rattlesnake Club
300 River Place Drive
Detroit, MI 48207–0423