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Winter Squash Cream 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 as a light lunch or supper with seasoned croutons or garlic bread and a salad. Since most of the preparation can be done the day before a dinner party, it comes together very quickly for serving. The recipe can easily be halved.


Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onions, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté 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 a hand 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 until well-combined. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chives. Serve immediately.