There's nothing like a warm and cozy chestnut soup to brighten up a cool evening. You can use fresh or frozen chestnuts, whatever is available to you. The flavor of chestnuts is enhanced by applewood-smoked bacon, and classic French flavors of garlic, thyme, and bay leaf lighten up the soup.
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Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the chestnuts in a roasting pan and roast until they are slightly brown and soft, about 15-20 minutes. Then, in a saucepot, render the bacon until brown. Remove the bacon, keeping the fat in the pot.
Add the onion and caramelize. Add the chestnuts and bacon and sauté for a few minutes. Skim off the fat. Cover with the chicken stock, and place the thyme, garlic, and bay leaf in a cheesecloth sachet, tied with kitchen twine. Add the sachet, and cook slowly until the chestnuts are soft, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Remove the sachet. Add the heavy cream. Return to a boil. Transfer to a blender and purée (in batches, if necessary). Add the butter and seasoning. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and serve.