The Food Temple- Pumpkin and roast chestnut soup

by Alison, 11/11/2013

The Food Temple was a lovely vegetarian restaurant we stumbled upon in Lisbon. I really do mean stumbled upon. We decided to take a wander and ended up in an area called Martim Moniz. We strolled up some alleys, avoided some others and were intrigued when we came across a small courtyard, with tables laid outside, a brightly lit doorway and a lovely smell. I later learned this is one of the few areas to survive the 1755 earthquake. You really get a sense of time standing still. The lanes are only wide enough to walk down and at night the old streets lamps make the cobbles glow.

As always our stomachs were rumbling much earlier then the Portuguese eat dinner, so we reserved a table and tried not to lose our way as we waited for the restaurant to open. What we had found was The Food Temple. A vegetarian restaurant with a warm, welcoming vibe. Compact and minimal, it was lovely to watch the food be prepared right before your eyes. Everything was fresh, tasty and well priced. The menu was small, designed to allow you to mix, match, share food and still come away satisfied.

After we left the one item that intrigued me most was the chestnut and sweet potato soup. I don't remember ever having chestnuts before. Therefore when I found some sweet chestnuts on a weekend in Dublin, I decided to try them out. However seeing as I couldn't resist the 3 for 2euro offer on pumpkins in Supervalu I decided to change the sweet potato for pumpkin.

I based the recipe for the soup on this and I found advice on how to roast chestnuts here.

500g of pumpkin - peeled, deseeded and sliced
olive oil
2 shallots
750ml chicken stock
80g roast chestnuts 
2pinches of cinnamon
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line a baking tray with grease proof paper.
Prepare your pumpkin. Take out all the membrane but keep the pumpkin seeds. 
Peel the flesh and chop into small pieces.

Wash the pumpkin seeds, pat dry with a paper towel and place on the baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 10minutes or until they are lightly toasted. You will need to stir them about half-way through. Once done, set aside to cool.
Next make a cut in the base of the chestnuts. Place them on the baking tray and roast them for 20minutes. When ready, remove from the oven and peel away the shell and the inner skin. (Allow them to cool a bit first or you will end up with damaged thumbs, like me. Lesson learned. Hopefully. Another option is to buy pre-roasted chestnuts).
Chop the shallots.
Melt some butter in a deep saucepan and sweat the shallots for 10minutes. Add the pumpkin, season with salt and pepper, put the lid on the saucepan and cook on a low heat for 10minutes. Stir occasionally. 
Add the stock and bring the mixture to the boil. Once boiling reduce the heat and simmer for 20minutes.
Add the chestnuts and simmer for another 10minutes.
Use a hand blander (or well any blender but these are easy as you can leave the soup in the pot) to make a nice smooth mixture.
Add two pinches of ground cinnamon. Adjust seasoning to your taste.
Serve in bowls, garnished with the toasted pumpkin seeds.

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