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Chestnut and Fennel Soup
By Chef Ida Rodriguez

Ingredients 

2 cups Italian Chestnuts roasted, shelled and skinned 
2 Shallots chopped 
2 Leeks chopped (white and pale green parts only) 
3/4 stick Unsalted Butter 
2 tablespoons Dry White Wine 
1/2 Fennel coarsely chopped 
1 cup Chicken Broth
 2 1/2 cups Water 
1/4 cup Half and Half 

Directions 

Coarsely chop chestnuts, reserving 1/3 cup for garnish. 

Cook shallot and leeks in 2 tablespoons butter in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. 

Add wine and simmer until almost all liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute. 

Stir in fennel, broth, chestnuts (excluding garnish), and water, then simmer, covered, 20 minutes. 

Stir in half- and-half and cool mixture slightly. 

 Purée mixture in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids). 

Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer, thinning with water if desired. Season with salt and pepper. 

 While soup is reheating, heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté reserved chestnuts with salt and pepper to taste, stirring constantly, until crisp and butter is browned, about 4 minutes.