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.