“Cersei set a tasty table, that could not be denied. They started with a creamy chestnut soup, crusty hot bread, and greens dressed with apples and pine nuts.” (II: 565)
Modern Creamy Chestnut Soup
Cersei knows her foods; this is a rich, creamy concoction of yummy goodness. The richness of the duck is balanced by the mildness of the lentils, while the chestnuts give it a slight sweet taste. The added elements- croutons, sauteed duck, cheese- provide a nice textural and flavorful counterpart to the thick bisque of the soup itself. Each bite tastes of luxury and the privilege that comes with being a Lannister of Casterly Rock.
The smoked duck is worth springing for, but we are now quite possibly addicted to it. Still, it makes for an absolutely mouthwatering soup that is the perfect cure for a cold, gloomy day.
Modern Chestnut Soup Recipe
It was disheartening to us that we were unable to find a recipe for Chestnut Soup with a medieval source. This may simply be one recipe that, if it indeed had medieval origins, does not have a surviving written account. However, we are consoled by the discovery of a wonderful, beautiful, delicious blog: http://lostpastremembered.blogspot.com/ Our recipe is heavily based on (pilfered from!) theirs!!
- ½ cup duck fat
- 2 T butter
- 4 slices bread, cut into croutons (around 3 cups)
- 1 smoked duck breast, skin removed, sliced thinly (around 7 oz)
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- 2 oz soft cheese, cubed small (we used Drunken Goat cheese)
- chopped herbs for garnish (few sprigs parsley and thyme & chives)
For the Soup:
- 3 T armagnac
- 2 cups cooked peeled chestnuts
- ¼ c chopped onion
- 1 small celery rib (7 oz), peeled and cubed
- 1 carrot (7 oz), peeled and cubed
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 c lentilles de Puy or French green lentils
- 8 c cold water
- 1 t salt
- 1/3 c heavy cream
Slice and soak the chestnuts in the Armagnac for a few hours.
Sauté the thinly sliced duck in the 2 T duck fat till crisp and reserve. Sauté the shallot, onion, celery root and carrot in the same duck fat (This starts to smell unbelievably good!).
Make a bundle of the herbs and toss into a large pot. Add the lentils, 1/3 of the smoked duck and the chestnuts, reserving the Armagnac. Add the water and salt and cook 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Strain the soup, reserving most of the cooking liquid, and remove the herbs and the duck. Puree the soup using the heavy cream and reserved cooking liquid as necessary. Start with a small amount of liquid so that the resulting soup is as creamy as possibly. You are aiming for a thick bisque sort of consistency, but one that can still be poured. The soup will thicken as it stands so keep the cooking liquid to add as needed.
Pour soup into bowl and sprinkle with croutons, soft cheese, chopped herbs, and the sauteed duck. Serve immediately.