Finally I have found a method of getting the flesh out of chestnuts that is reasonably easy. I have tried baking them in the oven, boiling them, but microwaving seems to be the best and easiest method. Slice a cross in the shell and heat them on high for 3 minutes in the microwave. I found this by far the best method.
I took 300g chestnuts and, once I had taken out the flesh, chopped it. Now a tablespoon olive oil and a tablespoon butter were melted in a saucepan and a chopped onion, two sliced celery stalks and 300g peeled and chopped carrots were added. To these were added a bay leaf, two stalks parsley and a couple of sprigs of thyme. They were all sauteed for about 3 minutes before I added the chestnuts, four cups water, a stock cube and some freshly ground black pepper. The heat was turned up and when it boiled, turned down to a simmer for 20 minutes.
The herbs were removed and a stick blender was used to puree the mixture. The recipe called for cream to be added but the soup already had a wonderfully smooth texture and tasted great without. All that it seemed to need was a small amount of salt and it was ready to go.
The soup was richly flavoured and silky smooth. The sweetness of the carrots was underlaid by the almost milky flavour of the chestnuts. This was a very satisfying soup.
Easy of cooking: ✔✔✔