Chestnut, pancetta, & cabbage soup

I love this soup - it's the essence of autumn. And although it might not be the most beautiful-looking dish in the world, it is about the tastiest. You can buy peeled chestnuts frozen or in vacuum-sealed bags. If you want to use fresh ones, there are lots of tips on the internet on how to peel and cook them.


  • 1/4 savoy cabbage, roughly chopped into large pieces
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
  • 1 peeled red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 185g pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed
  • 300g chestnuts, cooked and peeled
  • 2/3 cup full-bodied red wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crusty bread, to serve


Cook cabbage in 1.5 litres boiling salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the water. Rinse cabbage in cold water then roughly chop into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and cook onion, garlic, pancetta and salt over moderately high heat until onion is soft and pancetta lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add rosemary leaves and cook for 2 minutes. Break up chestnuts a little and add to pan with the cabbage. Stir to infuse flavours, then add wine. Bring to boil and cook for 1 minute. Add cabbage water and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Remove half the soup from the pan and purée, then return to the pan.

Gently reheat and check seasoning.

Divide soup among four large bowls. Drizzle with some oil, then add a good grind of black pepper. Serve with crusty bread.

NOTES: First published in the Good Weekend.