Velvety Butternut Squash and Chestnut Soup

Serves 6-8

1 (1 1/2-2 pound) butternut squash (about 4 cups cooked)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus a little for brushing the squash
1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
4 cups water low-sodium vegetable broth
8 ounces of bottled or vacuum packed chestnuts (about 20 chestnuts or 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus extra for garnish
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk (or half milk, half cream)
1 tablespoon butter at end

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees F. Slice butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Brush the flesh with a little bit of olive oil. Roast flesh side down on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet for 40-45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly before scooping out flesh. Discard skin.

2. In a deep pot over medium heat, warm oil. Saute onions, celery and carrots for 5-7 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. Add the cooked squash and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add chestnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and sage. Turn off heat, and let cool 5-10 minutes before pureeing.

3. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth and return to the pot over low heat. Add the milk and salt and pepper, and stir occasionally until the soup is thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes. Just prior to serving, stir in 1 tablespoon butter to the soup for added creaminess and depth of flavor. Taste it. Add salt and pepper as necessary. Garnish individual servings with fresh herbs, if desired.

Recipe created by Susan Russo of Food Blogga.