I was introduced to Cream of Almond Soup at my first French cooking class almost forty years ago. As I began to travel, I found a number of different soups, both hot and cold, that used almonds. This is a Spanish version adapted from Janet Mendel's 'My Kitchen in Spain'.
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup blanched, skinned almonds
• 3 to 4 garlic cloves cut in half
• 2 cups diced stale white bread, crusts removed
• 6 cups chicken broth or stock (low fat is fine), divided
• a pinch of saffron threads, crushed
• freshly ground pepper
• 2 teaspoons good quality white wine vinegar (Spanish or Italian)
• chopped parsley, for garnish
Heat the oil in a 4- to 5-quart pot over medium heat.
Add the almonds, garlic, and diced bread and stir constantly for 1 to 3 minutes or until they are golden. Remove pot from the heat and remove the almonds, garlic, and bread, leaving any remaining oil behind in the pot. Reserve 1/2 cup of the bread.
Place the remaining bread, almonds, garlic, a cup of the broth, saffron, pepper, salt, and the vinegar in the food processor with the metal knife blade and process for a few minutes until a smooth thick paste is formed.
Place the remaining broth in the pot and stir in the almond paste. Cook, stirring, until soup comes to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Garnish with parsley and reserved bread crumbs.
TIP: When a recipe calls for blanched almonds, save money by purchasing whole, unblanched almonds, which are less costly per pound. To remove the skins, simply pour boiling water over the almonds and let stand for 30 seconds. Drain off the water and the almond skins will slide right off. Then chop, sliver, or toast depending on the recipe.