Warming, sweet and spicy chestnut and chorizo soup

So delicious and soul satisfying with the flavors from the mountains of Spain.
Serve 4

4 tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 medium carrot , diced,
1 stick of celery, peeled and sliced thinly
5 oz mild Spanish chorizo, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cumin (I roast my own)
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 small dried red chiles, crushed
2 tomatoes, fresh or tinned, roughly chopped
1lb cooked, peeled chestnuts, vacuum packed, roughly chopped
20 saffron threads infused into 4 tbsp boiling water
2.2 pints water or chicken broth
sea salt and black pepper

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and fry the onion, celery, carrot, chorizo and a pinch of salt.
Fry for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until everything caramelizes and you get a good brown color.
This will give the soup a wonderfully rich color and flavor.
Now add the garlic, cumin, thyme and chile and cook for 1 more minute, followed by the tomato and after about 2 more minutes, the chestnuts.
Give everything a good stir then add the saffron infused liquid and the water or stock and cook for another 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and mash by hand with a potato masher until almost smooth but still leaving some texture.
Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chestnut risotto with butternut squash

It’s my favorite time of year for being in the kitchen with all the wonderful comforting dishes to make!

Serves 4

6 cups chicken or turkey broth
1/4 cup Riesling or other wine on the sweeter side
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups (10 oz) Arborio rice
2 cups peeled, roasted chestnuts, or jarred chestnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram
1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and 2 tbsp butter in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, chestnuts and squash. Cook until the onion is translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to burn it.

Add the rice to the onion-squash-chestnut mixture and coat the grains with the butter, cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes until the rice is translucent at the edges but still opaque in the center.
Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates.

Add 1 cup of the warm broth, simmer until almost absorbed, stirring often for about 4 minutes.
Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next one, until the rice is just tender, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes total.
Stir in the thyme and marjoram.
Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining 1 tbsp butter, cheese and parsley.
Season the risotto with salt and pepper and serve

Roasted sausages with grapes and chestnuts

Now Fall is coming, I think of roasted and baked dishes, especially this one with the woodsy flavor of the roasted chestnuts and sticky sweetness of the grapes along with the divine sausages. Some simple mashed potato would suffice here.

Serves 4

8 good quality pork sausages
7 oz cooked vacuum packed chestnuts
10 oz Portobello mushrooms, cut into thick chunks
9 oz sweet seedless grapes
1 large onion, cut into half moon shaped wedges
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 whole garlic bulb, all the cloves separated but not peeled
10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 good sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
10 fl oz red wine
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Put everything except the red wine into a broad, shallow ovenproof dish.
Turn the ingredients over so that they get coated in the olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, crush about half of the grapes so they release their juices into the pan.
Put into the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
Put in the red wine, mix well and cook for another 25 minutes or so. You can turn the sausages halfway through the cooking so they get colored on both sides.
The sausages and vegetables will cook and brown beautifully and the wine will reduce, leaving you with a gorgeous dark and bubbling dish.