Recipe: Festive Chestnut Velouté with Porcini

Recipe: Festive Chestnut Velouté with Porcini

Liven up your Christmas menu with this sumptuous recipe from Enjoy: Recipes for Memorable Gatherings

An inspirational new cookbook from Perla Servan-Schreiber, co-founder of Psychologies magazine, features simple flexitarian recipes for gatherings big – or small.

Perla drew from her Mediterranean roots, culinary influences while travelling and tips gleaned from chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi and Alain Ducasse to create the seasonal recipes in Enjoy. They cover every occasion, from formal holiday parties to casual summer picnics, and from spawling buffets to tea-time treats.

Of her festive chestnut velouté, Perla says: “With three contrasting yet complementary flavours and textures, this velouté is both elegant and luxurious. Quick and easy to prepare, it makes an ideal starter for a Christmas dinner. Happy Holidays!”


1¼lb (600g) small fresh or frozen porcini mushrooms (or button mushrooms)

2 celery hearts

20 toasted hazelnuts

4 cups (1 litre) my chicken broth, recipe below (or 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 4 cups/1 litre water)

3lb (1.3kg) canned or frozen unsweetened chestnut puree (or vacuum-packed cooked whole chestnuts)

3 tbsp (1¾oz/50g) lightly salted butter

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper


If you are using fresh mushrooms, cut the base off the stems and quickly rinse the mushrooms under cold water, brushing gently to remove any dirt. Pat dry, slice, and place on paper towel. If your mushrooms are frozen, follow the thawing instructions on the package, then slice.

Wash the celery hearts, pat dry, and cut the stalks into thin slices. Place in an attractive bowl ready to take to the table. Chop the leaves and reserve as a garnish.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts. When scattered over the soup, they must retain their crunch.

In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil, and then working in batches, blend the chestnut puree or whole chestnuts with the hot broth, the butter, and seasoning until velvety smooth. If the soup is too thick for you, gradually add more broth or hot water to obtain the texture you prefer.

In a large 10-inch (26cm) skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat until it is shimmering but not smoking. Add the mushrooms and sauté for five minutes, turning them over constantly with two spatulas. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

If necessary, reheat the velouté over very low heat, stirring with a whisk. Serve in bowls garnished with the mushrooms, celery leaves, and chopped hazelnuts. Pass around the celery slices.

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Nothing could be easier to make than this broth and I love the understated yet rich flavour it adds to everything. It’s my favourite flavour enhancer and it’s good for you, too. I often use it as a base for soups, risottos and vegetable dishes, and I even serve it on its own with a handful of alphabet pasta, as it’s the best way in winter to warm the soul while you wait for the arrival of spring. I always prepare a big batch of the broth and freeze it in portions for 2-4 people. Here is my secret.


4½lb (2kg) chicken wings

3 quarts (3 litres) cold water

1 tbsp ground turmeric

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

Salt and freshly ground white pepper


Rinse the chicken wings and place them in a large pot. Add the water, turmeric, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to very low and maintain a very gentle simmer for 1-1½ hours, until the chicken is fall-off-the-bones tender. Carefully pour the broth into a fine strainer set over another pot or a large bowl. When the wings are cool enough to handle, separate the meat, and discard the skin and bones.

Apart from the oysters, this wing meat is the best part of a chicken. At our house, we call it chicken caviar and my grandchildren have fought over this delicacy since they were little. It’s how I managed to trump chicken nuggets!

Extracted from Enjoy: Recipes for Memorable Gatherings by Perla Servan-Schreiber (Flammarion, 2020).

There is a chance to win a copy of the cookbook, worth £22.50, as well as a host of other titles in our Advent Calendar Competition. Entries open on 21 December.

Complete France Advent Calendar Competition

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