Acorn soup is the first way I ever ate acorns. It was at a fancy restaurant in San Francisco called Incanto, and I was entranced that the chef, Chris Cosentino, could use acorns to make such a lovely soup. I never did get Chris’ recipe, but I came up with this one instead.
It is a smooth soup, deeply earthy and nutty from the combination of acorn “grits” — chopped up pieces that have had the bitter tannins removed — and porcini mushrooms. A dollop of creme fraiche, sour cream or even regular cream rounds everything out.
If you want to make this, you will need to know about collecting and eating acorns. If acorns are just too weird for you but you want to make something similar, use chestnuts — even canned chestnuts make a good substitute.
You can use any dried mushroom if you can’t find porcini.
MORE ON ACORNS
- 3 cups acorn bits or chopped chestnuts
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces of dried porcini, soaked in 1 cup of hot water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup pear or apple brandy
- 1 quart chicken, beef, mushroom or vegetable stock
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
- A few parsley leaves
- Soak the porcini in the hot water for an hour before starting.
- Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat and saute the carrot, celery and onion for 3-4 minutes. add the mushrooms and acorn bits and stir to combine. Saute another 2 minutes or so.
- Add the pear brandy and boil it hard until it is almost gone, then add the bay leaves, mushroom soaking water (make sure there’s no grit in it!) and the stock. Bring to a simmer, taste for salt and add if needed. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 1 hour.
- Puree the soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender), then — if you want to get fancy — pass it through a fine-meshed sieve. If the soup is too thin, simmer it until you get a soup the consistency of melted ice cream.
- To finish, turn off the heat and mix in the creme fraiche or sour cream. You can add just regular cream if you’d like, but I like the acidic twang of the sour cream. Garnish with the parsley.