Walnut dressed Watercress Salad

If using fresh chestnuts, cut a small portion from the tops of their shells and put them into a saucepan of cold water. Bring them to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat. As soon as the chestnuts are cool enough to handle, peel them, leaving them immersed until skinned. If using dried chestnuts, pour hot water on them and leave them for 3 hours. Put the chestnuts and the chestnut liquid into a saucepan, bring them to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain them if necessary. Finely chop the chestnuts and celery. Peel, core and finely chop the apple. Finely chop the onion. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat. Mix in the celery, apple and onion, cover them and let them sweat for 10 minutes. Mix in the chestnuts. Pour in the stock and bring it to the boil. Add the bouquet garni, season and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Remove the bouquet garni and either puree the soup in a blender or food processor until it is smooth, or press it through a vegetable mill. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat before serving.


1 large bunch Watercress (salad cress)
350 g (3/4 lb) firm tomatoes
3/4 cup (75 g) 3 oz raisins
3/4 cup (75 g) 3 oz shelled walnuts
30 ml (2 tbls) white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed with a pinch sea salt


1. Break the watercress into small pieces and chop the tomatoes.

2. Put them both into a bowl with the raisins.

3. Finely chop the walnuts and crush them with a large pestle and mortar.

4. Work in the vinegar and garlic to make a fairly smooth dressing.

5. Fold the dressing into the salad and then divide it between four small dishes.

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