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, and a few drops of really nice oil, such as squash seed oil, adds a lot, too.
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 to this soup, use chestnuts — even canned chestnuts make a good substitute.
But I urge you to consider the humble acorn. Most of you reading this have easy access to acorns, and while it takes time to make the flour, it is not difficult. The link above and in below the headnotes of this recipe will give you all the information you need to get started on what will likely become an annual rite of autumn for you.
- 2 to 3 cups acorn bits
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 ounce dried porcini, soaked in 2 cups of hot water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup brandy or bourbon
- 1 quart chicken, beef, mushroom or vegetable stock
- Creme fraiche or sour cream
- Chopped parsley
- Sliced, seared grouse, pheasant or chicken breast
- Roasted squash seed, sunflower or other nice oil
- Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for an hour before starting. Squeeze the moisture from the mushrooms and chop coarsely. Save the water, straining it if there is a lot of debris.
- Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat and saute the carrot, celery and onion until they are soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms and acorn bits and stir to combine. Saute another 2 minutes or so.
- Add the brandy and boil it hard until it is almost gone, then add the bay leaves, 2 cups of mushroom soaking water and the stock. Bring to a simmer, taste for salt and add if needed. Cover and simmer gently 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. if it's too thick, add water or stock.
- Serve with a drizzle of creme fraiche or sour cream. Add some chopped parsley, a few drops of nice oil (I prefer roasted squash seed oil) and, if you want it to be a main course, a few slices of grouse, partridge, pheasant or chicken breast.
The soup will hold for several days in the fridge if you want to make it ahead of time.