The romantic in me sometimes gets the upper hand and induces me into culinary jaunts that are best left to an expert. I saw some lovely chestnuts at the greengrocer’s about one month ago and just had to have them. What should I do with them? was a question that was answered by Maria – put them in a minestrone. That sounded splendid. And so off I went.
I boiled the chestnuts until they softened … I then ventured to remove each edible part of the chestnut from its hull or casket or shell or whatever that damned ‘thing’ that encases them is called. I came to rue my choice of minestrone ingredient … it requires the sort of patience that doesn’t always come to me unless I am on holiday. The rest of the minestrone-making was pretty standard. I sloshed plenty of olive oil into the casserole pan and then cooked some chopped onion. After a few minutes I added the vegetables … a medley of seasonal veggies. I added some tomato paste too and plenty of water. And the last ingredient was the hard part of a wedge of parmesan. It is so hard that no one can eat it and it usually gets thrown away. However, if you keep them in the freezer, you can use them to add to soups or casseroles. They soften up and add a very nice taste to the mix. I let the minestrone simmer for about half an hour. While it was simmering, I crumbled the cooked chestnuts. Then, 10 minutes before serving the minestrone, I added some chickpeas. I tasted ithe minestrone to check whether it requied any more salt or pepper. A piece of toasted bread in the soup plate. I rubbed some garlic on the toasted bread. I poured the minestrone into my plate and over the toasted breaòd, and scattered the crumbled chestnuts on the very top.
And yes … it was a very nice minestrone indeed. And yes, I did sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan cheese over it too.
Will I add chestnuts again? Oh sure … if someone else will go to the bother of cooking and shelling them, no problem!