Another cunning little soup. And what to do when your friend gives you a bag of foraged chestnuts

Beetroot is another vegetable that divides the family. Missy B won’t go near it but I assume that she will come round at some point. Mr B is indifferent. But I love it and I bought too much for the Naughty Habits relish, so I made a simple but in my opinion stunningly delicious soup. 

For anyone who tries the recipes I put on here: I am fairly vague about measurements for soup. It doesn’t seem to matter. This is what I did yesterday: 

500g beetroots

a generous knob of butter

1 onion, chopped

1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock (I had some homemade in the freezer from last week’s roast chicken, which did make this soup particularly lovely)

salt and pepper

Wash the beetroot gently (you don’t want to damage the skin or take the ends off). Put the beetroot in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil then simmer until the skins rub off easily. You can wear rubber gloves to do this, but I am hardcore and prefer to use my bare hands, messy though this is…

When they are cool enough to handle, slice the ends off and rub off the skins.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the onion. Season, stir then cover with a cartouche (a circle of baking parchment) on top of the onions. Cover the pan and sweat the onions over a low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the beetroot and stock to the onions, season, then purée.

Reheat to serve and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Usually I would add a dollop of sour cream and chives, but this time I still had some Naughty Habits horseradish cream (medium strength…), so I used that instead. Perfect!

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It’s not a good picture, but do I like the horseradish man with floppy fringe. Or is that just me??

And now the chestnuts. My friend Richard from work, who lives somewhere idyllic in Somerset, turned up this week with a bag of chestnuts for me, harvested on one of his dog walks. My first thought was to roast them immediately and eat the lot before anyone else got home. But by coincidence I had just the other day been drooling over a (£15.99!!) box of marron glacés in a local deli. So I had a rummage around my books and the internet. They all said the same thing – it takes four days. But not all day every day for four days, so what the hell. I did it. The laborious bit is peeling them. After boiling them, you have to take the shell and and the skin off. No two ways about it – this is boring. But once that’s done, it’s easy. What takes four days is boiling them in sugar syrup and soaking them overnight several times. But that accounts for about five minutes each on days two to four. And then you have these gorgeous little treats!!

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I know they look wrapped, as if for gift giving. They are not. I just thought they’d look pretty for the picture, but I plan to eat most of them.

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