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Creamy Winter Squash Soup

Serves 8 to 10 as a first course

This is the type of cream soup that makes a delicious and elegant first course. It is light, very flavorful and sure to whet the appetite for the remainder of the meal. It can also be served for lunch or supper with seasoned croutons or garlic bread and a salad, in which case it will serve four people. Since most of the preparation can be done the day before serving, it comes together very quickly when needed. The recipe can easily be halved. See the similar and related recipes for a suggestion on how to use leftovers.

Ingredients


Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the squash, onions, carrot, celery and garlic; cook until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, apple juice, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from stove. Purée the vegetables until smooth with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender or food processor. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired. (Soup can be made to this point one day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.)

Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer. Add the sherry and simmer about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, sour cream and nutmeg just until hot and well-combined. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chives. Serve immediately.