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Chestnut Soup

1 leek

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided

2 Macintosh apples, peeled and chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

1 thyme sprig

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 (32-ounce) containers chicken broth

3/4 pound whole chestnuts, shelled (about 2 cups nut meat)

1 cup whipping cream or half-and-half

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


REMOVE root, tough outer leaves, and tops from leek, leaving 2 inches.of dark leaves. Cut into quarters lengthwise. Thinly slice leek; rinse well, and drain.


MELT 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, apples, celery, and onion; saute 5 minutes. Add bay leaf and next 3 ingredients; saute 8 to 12 minutes or until ap­ples and vegetables are tender.


STIR in chicken broth and chest­nuts. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until chest­nuts are tender. Stir in cream. Dis­card bay leaf.


PROCESS leek mixture, in batch­es, in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan.


MELT remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet. Stir in flour until smooth; cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes.


ADD flour mixture to pureed mix­ture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 to 5 minutes or un­til thickened. Serve warm. Top with sour cream and grated fresh nutmeg, if desired.

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