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This beautiful soup is for those who love the deep, strong flavors of winter, to warm us through. Rich comfort food: Sweet Potato-Chestnut Soup with Sage and Bacon! … and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil adds another wonderful note. This Paleo and Whole30 recipe can be made on the stove top or in your Instant Pot.
Rich Soup and Christmastime
Are you someone that loves being satisfied by rich, healthful foods? I really am. I love complex carbohydrates at dinner. They can help improve sleep. I tend to emphasize proteins at breakfast and lunch, and carbs at dinner. Certainly you can have a pitcher of cream or coconut cream on the table to “lighten” the soup if you wish. 😉 That’s lovely, and my boys enjoy theirs with cream. I do like it thick … (but once there’s cream in my bowl it’s hard not to appreciate the French variation). My daughter loves hers thick, no cream, just the drizzle of toasted sesame oil.
Every bite into a chestnut found amidst the earthy, sweet potato (bone broth) base is a pleasure. If you haven’t eaten chestnuts before, I hope you’ll indulge before winter ends. They say Christmas, yes. Chestnuts say seasonal. (We have them growing locally, and can find them at all of our local markets!) They can be purchased in a box, already cooked, affordably from places like Trader Joe’s. Chestnuts can also be made fresh, beautifully (like this) in an Instant Pot and then roasted.
Chestnuts in Venice
I first had chestnuts in Italy with my parents. I was a senior in college and met them in Venice. I laughed out loud when I first saw the city, all surrounded by water. What a wonder. The street vendors blackened the nuts all day on their outdoor grills. We walked down narrow streets and over bridges with a paper bag of them, warming our hands and tasting the comforting, sweet, starchy novelty.
Both the word chestnut and its origins trace back to Ancient Greece. Cultivated throughout the Mediterranean about 3000 years ago, fresh chestnuts are quite different from other nuts. Chestnuts have a higher water content, are lower in calories and fat, but higher in starch. They’re high in fiber and satisfyingly filling.
What else …
This soup is also loaded with fresh sage, which is healthful and balances the other strong flavors well.
And, of course, bacon. Its hot, buttery, caramelized crunch caps off the bowl of slow food, gives some lovely chew and adds that balance of protein.
My husband adds living sauerkraut to the top of his soup as well, for a sweet and sour.
Finally, might I say about sweet potatoes, that they are what I love about food. They are plain and fancy all at once, just like this soup. Therefore, this would make a great weeknight meal, with nothing else, or a salad on the side. But this soup would also make an elegant starter for a Christmas or Christmas Eve meal, in small bowls, with a few lovely garnishes.
- 2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes unpeeled, about 7
- 2 cups bone broth
- 1-1/2 cups chestnuts (about 9 ounces) chopped and already cooked, see buying or cooking guide below in Recipe Notes
- 6 pieces bacon cooked and chopped
- 1/4 cup animal fat or butter or coconut oil
- 4 branches sage leaves, about 25 fresh leaves; 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary can also be substituted and is excellent
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Place broth and whole sweet potatoes into pot, or Instant Pot insert pot. For regular stove top, gently boil until fork-tender through to the center. For IP, place lid on, close steam vent, choose Manual and adjust time to 10 minutes. When timer goes off allow 20 minutes for it to cool naturally, then place towel over steam vent, press Cancel and open steam vent.
Remove pot for heat and allow sweet potatoes and broth to cool for 15-20 minutes. If using IP, unplug machine and remove insert pot to allow cooling.
After elapsed time, place the following into high-powered blender: sweet potatoes (unpeeled) and broth, 1/2 cup chestnuts, fat of choice, fresh sage and sea salt. Blend for about 30 seconds until smooth.
Transfer puree to medium size saucepan and reheat. Stir in final 1 cup chestnuts. Serve, garnished with about 2 Tablespoons bacon per bowl.
Additional topping suggestions include the following: sauerkraut for a sweet and sour flavor, coconut cream or raw cream, sauteed caramelized onions, a drizzle of toasted sesame oil or extra-virgin olive oil, fresh sage, fried sage.
This is the Instant Pot I use.