Soup Course : Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Wine Suggestion : California Sauvignon Blanc, White Bordeaux

When planning a formal dinner take some time with your menu. Each dish should be well-balanced and the meal should flow. Contrast your courses by following a rich dish with a simple one and a bland dish with something spicy. At a traditional formal dinner the second course is the soup course. Consommés and bisques are especially popular. The mild curry flavor of this butternut squash and apple soup will fit nicely between my appetizer and the fish course.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large yellow onions chopped (4 cups)
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
2 large butternut squash
4 sweet apples, such as McIntosh
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups good apple juice or cider

1. Warm the butter and olive oil in a large stock pot over low heat. Add the onions and curry powder and cook, uncovered, for 15 - 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

2. Peel the squash, cut in half and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut into chunks.

3. Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper and 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are soft. Process the soup in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment until pureed.

4. Pour the soup back in the pot. Add the apple juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like. It should be slightly sweet and thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot.

Makes 3 1/2 quarts