Christmas Chestnut Soup and Bacon Croutons

Let England Shake, Going Postal
Not LES’s Christmas Chestnut Soup and Bacon Croutons
Arnold GatilaoLicence CC BY 2.0

I have one rule for Christmas Day: Everything must be home made. No pre-prepared shop stuff because it’s naff.

This is an easy starter for Christmas Day. I love soups for Christmas Lunch/Dinner because they’re not going to bloat you for the rest of the meal’s pigging out and they line the tum for any over indulgences of booze. The amount can be easily adjusted for number of guests and family and best of all, it can be made in advance.

If you’re inflicted with a vegetarian or worse, a vegan, hold the croutons or make gluten-free ones or something.

  • 7oz (or 200g) cooked and peeled whole chestnuts
  • 1 stick of celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 pints (1.1 litres) ham or vegetable stock
  • Salt and fresh milled black pepper


  • 1 rasher bacon, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 4oz (110g) stale white bread, cut into small cubes
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil


To make the soup, you simply place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, season lightly with salt and pepper, bring up to simmering point, then put a lid on and simmer very gently for 45 minutes.

While that’s happening, you can prepare the croutons. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the bacon gently for 5 minutes, then turn the heat up to its highest setting, add the cubes of bread, together with the thyme, and toss them around (keeping them constantly on the move) until they, and the bacon, have turned a deep golden brown colour and become very crisp and crunchy. Turn them out on to some absorbent kitchen paper.

Then, as soon as the soup is ready, allow it to cool slightly, then transfer it to a blender and purée until smooth. You may need to do this in more than one batch, in which case, it is a good idea to have a bowl to put the soup in as it is ready. Re-heat the soup in the pan, season to taste and serve in warmed soup bowls, with the croutons, bacon and thyme sprinkled over.

© LetEnglandShake 2018

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