Honeyed Toasted Almond Soup
We’ll start our Thanksgiving dinner by preparing the Honeyed Toasted Almond Soup, which can be made well-ahead and either refrigerated or frozen until the big day. I’m not certain this soup is French in the technical sense, but the first time I ever had a nut soup was at a diner somewhere on the road between Dijon and Beaune in Burgundy, so when I think about nut soups, I’m reminded of that experience.
This is a very elegant, flavorful soup that’s great on its own but really shines as a first course accompanied by a freshly made salad that has a bit of cheese and/or fruit in it. The added bonus is that toasting the almonds fills the house with an amazing aroma. This is a vegetarian soup as described below, but if you don’t have vegetable stock at hand, chicken stock can be substituted and also works well. And while I like to prepare my own veggie stock, you can purchase some very good high-quality organic prepared vegetable stock from a quality grocer.
The one tip I can offer is that you should purée the soup really well. You’ll never quite get rid of the tiny bits of almond, but for me, that bit of texture is a feature, not a problem. It reminds me (as if the flavor wasn’t enough) that the soup is really full of almonds. This almond soup can be refrigerated for 2-3 days without suffering and can be frozen for 6-8 weeks or more.
2 cups slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
6 Tbsp. butter
1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
6 cups prepared vegetable stock (chicken stock also works)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
2-3 Tbsp. raw organic honey
Heat the olive oil in a large shallow skillet over medium heat and when it's near to smoking, add the almonds and stir continuously until fragrant and the almonds turn a nice caramel color (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
In a dutch oven or smallish stock pot, melt the butter and when it quits frothing, add the onion and cook until tender and translucent.
Add the toasted almonds and stir to coat with butter, then add the flour and again stir to coat all the onions and almonds. Cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Add the stock a cup at a time, allowing each cupful to come to a brisk simmer before adding the next.
Simmer the soup for 25-30 minutes and remove from heat.
After 15-20 minutes of cooling, puree the soup thoroughly in a blender or food processor. You'll still have some gritty bits, but the soup should be pretty smooth and creamy.
Return the pureed soup to the pot and bring to a slow simmer. Add cream and then add the honey, 1 Tbsp. at a time, tasting between additions, until you're satisfied with the flavor. The actual amount you'll need will depend on the honey you use and the flavor you're looking for.
Serve hot with a little parsley for garnish (or you can reserve a few of the toasted almond slivers to decorate each bowl.