Chestnut, Bean & Milk Soup
8 ounces fresh chestnuts, shells removed
1 fresh bay leaf
2 ounces smoked bacon, diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
8 ounces fresh porcini mushrooms, sliced
2 ounces Marsala
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
3 fresh sage leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups whole milk
extra-virgin olive oil
1. Put the chestnuts in a pot and add enough water to cover.
2. Add 1 bay leaf and bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
3. Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon renders some fat.
4. Add the onion and stir to coat with the fat. Sauté, stirring often, until onions are tender without any browning, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the porcini and cook until they are tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Add the Marsala and stir to release any drippings sticking to the pot.
7. Drain the chestnuts; remove and discard the bay leaf. Add the chestnuts and beans to the pot.
8. Tear the sage into small pieces and add that to the pot along with some salt and pepper.
9. Add the milk and bring the soup to a simmer over low heat. Simmer slowly until all of the ingredients are tender and hot and the soup has a good flavor and consistency, about 15 minutes. (The soup will thicken as it cooks; if it becomes too thick, add a bit of water or milk to thin it.
Serve hot in heated soup plates or bowls topped with a drizzle of olive oil. Soup may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
From The Culinary Institute of America, Gianni Scappin and Alberto Vanoli, Italian Cooking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011; $34.95 hardcover.