Bring on Autumn!
I remember one of my first years here in London where the incessant rain made me sink into a deep depression in October from which I didn't re-emerge until the following April... but this year the weather Gods have been treating us nicely and we are enjoying a prolongued Indian summer with mild temperatures and many a sunny day. Perfect to venture out into Richmond Park and pick up chestnuts ... in your dreams! Of course I don't! It's actually illegal, as is mushroom picking, as the many deer and other animals depend on this for food.
Of course, they won't be creating as delectable a concoction as this soup, for which I had to go harvest at the local supermarket. I couldn't really understand why no fresh chestnuts were on offer (they're in season, after all, but our supermarkets seemingly prefer to wait until the beginning of December when they can import them from Southern Europe rather than using locally grown...), but I was surprised at how tasty the tinned variety was, and while the pre-roasted and vacuum-packed version wouldn't really be adequate in some recipes like the skewers I made last year, they work perfectly fine in this case.
I decided to pair this chunky soup with a "salsa" of chopped chestnuts and roast red peppers, seasoned with some adobo sauce I had from a tin of chipotle chillies - and I tell you, try to go out of your way to get some, as the smoky flavour and the subtle spiciness complement the sweetness of the soup perfectly... a very nice combination, indeed. If you can't find any, have a go at making your own: I just discovered a recipe on Becks & Posh which I have yet to try... alternatively, you might want to play around with a little smoked paprika, however spicy you want it (the Spanish version is usually mild, whereas some Hungarian ones can bring tears to your eyes with just a pinch). Of course, this will taste even better using fresh chestnuts - I am including instructions for roasting them in the recipe below.
So, if you treat me with soups like this after a long walk in the park, I might even tolerate autumn when it's murky and depressing outside...