I love this chestnut and wild mushroom soup coming up to Christmas. There are lots of dried mushrooms with intense flavours that you can get now and I always keep some in the cupboard. They are handy to have for a risotto. You can get cooked French chestnuts vacuum packed in Dunnes. For excellent smoked duck try Skeaghanore Duck in Ballydehob, west Cork. This soup also tastes great with smoked bacon used instead. It can be made up to three days in advance and kept covered in the fridge.

The lobster bisque is an extremely rich soup and it is a treat. Small amounts are quite sufficient. You can get frozen lobster all year round nowadays. You could use crab, or prawns instead if you like. Bouquet Garni can be made in a variety of ways, with this soup you could use some basil and dill.