With the help of peeled vacuum-packed chestnuts (available at gourmet shops and Whole Foods Markets), this otherwise labor-intensive soup becomes a rich weeknight standby.
Sunset NOVEMBER 2007
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until onion and celery have softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add chestnuts, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chestnuts are soft, about 10 minutes.
3. Remove bay leaves and purée soup using an immersion blender (or whirl in batches in a blender or food processor). Add more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve garnished with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of chopped parsley if you like.
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