Potato Soup with Fried Almonds

This recipe has been on my list of soups to try for some time, and since Jeremy’s tummy has been bothering him, last night seemed like the right moment to try it out. We made it with Yukon Golds and a few reds to supplement the amount. There was no saffron in the house, and I used bacon for the garnish. As I started ladling it up, Jeremy commented that it looked like it needed straining, so I was afraid he would not like it. However, he didn’t say anything adverse about the texture once he started eating, and ended up having two bowls. I used whole almonds with the skins on, so there were dark bits in the soup that may have been the root of his complaint; using blanched almonds would have avoided that, but I was lazy, and in then end they didn’t hurt anything. This one is definitely worth making again, and I’ll try it with the saffron next time.

Potato Soup with Fried Almonds

The unusual methods of cutting the potatoes results in a thick-thin structure for each chunk so that when the potatoes are cooked the thin part dissolves, thickening the stew or soup, while the thick part remains, giving body and texture.

1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold or baking potatoes
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
½ C slivered almonds or blanched whole
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
salt and pepper
4-5 C homemade or good boxed chicken stock
a pinch of saffron, pulverized in mortar
2 tsp sherry vinegar
minced parsley
crumbled crisp bacon for garnish (or shredded serrano ham or proscuitto)

Peel and cut the potatoes into irregular chunks this way: Insert the tip of a small sharp knife into each potato, and twist it, until a chunk 1 1/2″ pops out. Continue until you have reduced all your potatoes to chunky rubble. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot, at least 3 qt size. Add the almonds and garlic, and cook them over a medium heat, until they are golden–about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Remove to a coffee grinder or mini processor and pulverize.

Add the potatoes to the pan, and stir them around for a minute or two. Add the broth, and all but 2 tsps of the pulverized almond mix. Bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer. Dissolve the saffron in about 2 tbsps of the soup, and let it sit for a minute or two. Add it to the soup, with salt and pepper. Cook for about 25 minutes, at which point you should be able to crush about half of the potatoes with the back of a big spoon. Do so.

Mix the vinegar with the remaining almond mix, and stir into the soup. Garnish each bowl with the chopped parsley and bacon (or ham).

Source: From The New Spanish Table, by Anya von Bremzen, via Toast.

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