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Festive Mushroom Soup

3 lb White mushrooms; stems trimmed
3 tb Olive oil
3 tb Unsalted butter
1 1/2 c Coarsely chopped onion
1 c Coarsely chopped celery; with leaves
2 tb Minced garlic
3/4 ts Dried thyme
1/4 ts Ground nutmeg
6 c Defatted chicken broth
3/4 c Heavy cream
3 tb Snipped fresh chives for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Wipe the mushroom caps clean with a damp paper towel. Slice the mushrooms and set them aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy pot over low heat. Add the onion and celery; cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.

Add the reserved mushrooms and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. Season with the thyme, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor until smooth, adding the cream gradually through the feed tube. Return the soup to the pot and adjust the seasonings to taste. Before serving, heat the soup through over very low heat (do not boil). Garnish with the chives and serve piping hot.

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