BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH APPLES
about 1½ to 2 quarts, 6 to 8 servings
Place squash in a microwave oven on a sheet of wax paper; microwave at HIGH power for 2 to 4 minutes, or until squash is easy to cut with a sharp knife. Allow squash to cool for easier handling. With a sharp knife, cut squash into quarters or small to medium-size pieces; remove seeds and stringy pulp and discard (may reserve seeds for toasting, if desired). Remove peel with a peeler or sharp knife and discard. May cut a few bite-size cubes of squash and reserve for garnish, if desired. Finely mash or puree squash in a blender container, covered, at medium speed until smooth. May add some of the chicken broth or wine or water to blender container to make pureeing easier, if desired.
In a large heavy saucepan, combine mashed or pureed squash, chicken or vegetable broth or wine or water, celery, and onion. Bring mixture to a simmer over moderate heat; reduce heat to low and season to taste with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg, if desired. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 30 minutes to blend flavors. Add additional chicken broth or wine or water as desired if soup is too thick. Adjust seasoning to taste. About 5 to 7 minutes before end of cooking time, add apple pieces.
Serve hot or chilled as desired. May garnish each serving with bite-size cubes of cooked squash and/or a dollop of sour cream and/or a sprinkle of minced parsley, if desired.
Note: Soup may be stored in a tightly closed glass or plastic container for 3 to 4 days. Or, soup may be frozen in a tightly sealed freezer container.
Variations: Add 2 to 3 tablespoons or to taste finely grated peeled gingerroot to soup mixture.