1 lb (450 g) chestnuts
3 Tbsp (40 g) butter
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 onions, chopped
1 small head of celery with leaves, chopped
3 parsley sprigs, chopped
1.2 litres (2 pints) water
2 tablespoons single cream or top of milk
1. Blanch the chestnuts in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove them one by one and take off the skin and peel.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently stew the carrots, onions, celery and parsley until softened.
3. Add the water, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 1 hour, then strain the stock and reserve.
4. Use half the stock to cook the chestnuts until they are quite soft. Sieve or blend to a puree and return to the pan.
5. Stir in the remaining stock and adjust the seasoning.
6. Reheat and stir in the cream before serving with Mornay toast.
for the mornay toast
1. Lay fingers of thinly sliced bread on a baking sheet and sprinkle thickly with grated cheese.
2. Bake in a preheated moderately hot oven 200°C (400°F) Gas mark 6 until brown and crisp.