5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 medium shallot, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
5 cups water
3 whole black peppercorns
1 dried bay leaf
¼ cup (¼ ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
½ medium tart apple (such as Granny Smith)--peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes
One 14-ounce jar peeled cooked chestnuts, drained (or ¾ pound peeled roasted chestnuts)
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons cognac or sherry
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
Caraway Crème Fraîche
1 teaspoon finely ground caraway seeds
½ cup crème fraîche
12 grissini (Italian breadsticks)
1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic, shallot, onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the water, peppercorns, bay leaf and dried mushrooms and bring to a boil, using a spoon to skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl (discard the solids).
2. In the same pot or Dutch oven, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the apple and chestnuts and cook until the apple is softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the cognac and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in the reserved vegetable stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Cook until the chestnuts are tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add the nutmeg and stir to combine.
3. Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and blend in batches until a smooth soup forms. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
4. Make the caraway crème fraîche: Place the caraway seeds in a spice grinder and finely grind. In a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche and the ground caraway until combined. Portion the soup between 12 shot glasses, top each with the caraway crème fraîche and add a grissini to each glass. Serve hot.