This is a very special edition of soup stories. It is special because it marks the first time my parents met the parents of my girlfriend Becky. And of course, as you already know, there is one glorious activity that is best suited for such a situation. One activity that excels at bringing people together. And that activity is soup making.

Setting the scene

This soup story started on a fresh October night in Turin, close to midnight. Becky, Becky’s parents, and I had just arrived by airplane from Malta. We stuffed our luggage in a rental car and drove off into the night. The darkness took away the impressive sight of the immense Alpine mountain range. The only indication that we were indeed leaving the Po-plain was the rhythmic occurrence of hairpin bends that brought us upwards.

I was somewhat disappointed that Becky’s parents couldn’t witness the massive rock formations that lay ahead of us. I was so excited to show them the lovely Piedmontese landscape where my family and I spent many of our holidays.

The family house (on a clear day, unlike the day of our arrival)

One day before our arrival, my parents had already made their way to our Italian family house. They had stocked the fridge and made sure the fire had warmed the house before we arrived. And thus, upon our arrival, we were greeted by three warm embraces; from my mum, and my dad, and the cozy atmosphere of the house.

Everyone (but my dad), in front of the house

The morning after our arrival was fresh. Much fresher than we were used to in Malta. I had checked the weather forecast for the weekend and it was not looking great. It was predicted that we would be treated to a few serious showers and temperatures almost 15 degrees lower than in Malta.

Now the thing is: Becky and I secretly love this type of weather. The rain, the cold, give it all to us! So we were quite pleased with the situation. Except… it also meant that the mountains were completely covered in clouds. This was such a disappointment. I love the view you get when you open the front door to the house. It opens up to the magical sight of the Mombarone mountain.

The view from our village on a clear day. You can see the Mombarone rising on the horizon. And if you’re very quiet, you might even hear it calling you.

When faced with this view, one can not do anything else but be in awe. Every time I am faced with this view I fall silent and I try to hear the call of the mountain. The mountain, of course, remains silent. But his stoic, immovable presence gives off a certain allure that much resembles a call. A call to come closer.

But that is a story for another time. I know you are here just for the soup, so let me get on with it.

The day that we made soup together started very unassuming. As I said, the mountain was still hiding behind the clouds. Even though the sun didn’t have the power to break through the clouds, we were still accompanied by its lovely Autumnal warmth. We decided to seize this opportunity to go for a walk through the forest that surrounds the village.

The forest around the house consists primarily of beeches, evergreens, and chestnuts. The trees of this last nomenclature are important to this story, because they made it that the forrest floor was covered with lovely shiny chestnuts. Some of them lay bare on the floor, some still half covered in their spiky jackets.

And just as the mountain sings a certain siren song when you look at it, so do these chestnuts. Their beautifully shiny, polished skins exude luxury. They look like expensive, auburn gems, fallen out of a treasure chest. Somehow they look like they don’t truly belong on the forest floor. They belongs in your hand. You should pick them up. Let them gently roll in your palm. And then put them in your coat pocket.

Or, alternatively, if you have a more practical outlook on life like my mum has: you can collect a whole bunch of them and make soup out of them. So that’s exactly what we did. And I don’t have to tell you how pleased I was with the plan to make a soup out of deez nuts. I was very pleased indeed.

My mum, with her great foresight, had brought a plastic bag in which we could deposit all of our chestnuts. Becky and Becky’s mum enthusiastically joined my mum, whilst reminiscing the fun they used to have playing the traditional English chestnut game called conker fighting.

After some time, even our dads joined the activity, bravely breaking the gender stereotypes of foraging. An act that will not soon be forgotten.

chestnut soup

Soup recipe

After we were done foraging, we went back indoors to warm up on a nice cup of tea (for the three British representatives) and coffee (for the three Dutch representatives).

In order to make soup out of the chestnuts, it’s important to first remove the peel. To do this, we’re going to boil the chestnuts. But not before we make a small incision into the peel first. This will help to remove the peel easier once the nuts are boiled.

After the chestnuts are boiled, the peeling starts. This is quite a laborious process, so it would be optimal if you happen to have two sets of parents to help you out with it.

After the chestnuts are all peeled, they should look somewhat like this.

The next step is to create a mirepoix. Chop up some onions, carrots, and celery. Put this in the soup pan with some butter or oil on low heat and let it sit there for a bit.

Now add all of the chestnuts on top of your mirepoix and add water + stock cubes. I just realised that I have not mentioned any quantities for the ingredients, but it’s all pretty straightforward anyway, right? Just use your common sense and personal preferences.

Now use you blender to make a silky textured creamy soup of heavens!

And that was the last step of making this soup. We garnished this soup with some spring onions and croutons that my mum had made (garlic + olive oil + her own home made bread).


Taste ⭐⭐⭐⭐★
Ease ⭐⭐★★★

Traditionally I use two metrics to judge a soup. The first one is the ease-level and the second one is the taste experience. If you’ve read the paragraphs leading up to this review, you will have noticed that it took six people and quite a lot of effort to create this soup. The foraging is not really the problem here. Collecting the chestnuts is relatively easy, you just pick them up and bring them home. The part that takes the most time is the peeling of the chestnuts. It’s quite challenging to get the peel of in a efficient manner. Sometimes the peel sticks to the nut a lot, sometimes it goes off easily. It’s hard to predict.

Fortunately we were not in a rush and we had a great team. Conclusively, I have to deduct a few points of the ease-level for this soup, even though the peeling of the chestnuts was probably the best part of this soup recipe.

It’s an almost meditative activity that allowed all of us to sit around the table in the cozy warm living room and join in conversations. Just like foraging in the woods, it is a very low effort activity that allows for relaxed conversations. Which was very nice, because it meant both of our parents could get to know each other a bit better.

And in a way, that was the best part of this soup. We spend quite a lot of time making this soup if you consider all the different steps. First of all, it had brought us outside for a lovely walk, where it was easy for everyone to have one-on-one conversations with each other, but also to switch conversation partner easily.

And so I noticed both of our fathers walking at the back of the pack, discussing history and architecture. A bit later I eavesdropped on our mothers talking about both of their experiences as school teachers. After a bit my mum and Becky’s dad were having a discussion about football, while my dad and Becky’s mum were talking about nature.

While all this took place before our eyes, Becky and I looked at each other and smiled. It was the first time our parents met each other and we could not have wished for a better experience.

Now back to the more urgent matter: the review.

Taste-wise, this soup was a perfect autumn soup. It had a rich, earthy flavour and a heavy, creamy texture. Just like I concluded in my previous reviews, most soups’ experiences benefit from adding garnishes and so does this soup. The variance in texture that the garnishes bring make the soup just a little more interesting and playful to eat.

All in all, this soup gets a 2/5 score for ease and a 4/5 for flavour. But maybe this soup wasn’t about obtaining the legendary 5/5 score, maybe the legendary 5/5 score was the friends we made along the way… 🙂