Potato and Fried Almond Soup

IMG_1656This simple, Andalusian style Potato soup has been a standard in my kitchen for many winters.  Is is one of the three most simple and deeply satisfying soups I’ve ever eaten.  The other two are Caldo Verde, the Portuguese concoction of kale, potatoes, sausage and water that magically makes perfect soup and Stracciatella a perfect combination of eggs, greens, good chicken stock (and garlic, if I’m making it).IMG_1677This potato soup is good to eat late at night when you’ve been working a 12 hour day even though you’re fighting a cold.  It’s a good breakfast if you have a hangover.  You can carry it to work in a mason jar and reheat it in a microwave in the employee lounge.  You could absolutely serve it with good bread and wine and green salad to a small party of elegant friends.  I have not done that, but only because my winters are always smashed full of work.IMG_1582If you cook any Spanish dishes, it is highly likely that you will already have the short list of ingredients needed for this soup lurking in your pantry, fridge and freezer.  If you live in NYC and are cuddled into your apartment during the snow storm (more of a wind storm than the predicted snow storm) right now, you might be able to make this soup without leaving the warmth of home.IMG_1622I have not shared this soup until now for two reasons.  First, I did not invent this soup.  I share lot’s of recipes that I did not invent, but I tinker around with them first.  Sometimes I end up with recipes that are so deeply adapted that I sort of qualify as my own, sometimes they are mildly tweaked to suit my tastes, and sometimes I just offer the same recipe with ideas for how to swap out certain ingredients and advice about when fussy directions should be followed or ignored.  I’m usually not a fan of recipes that insist that if you don’t have the exact authentic, artisanal ingredient list you may as well not bother.  This brings me to the second reason I have not shared this recipe until now.  I have mucked about with this soup for years and I can honestly say it is better if you make it with the exact ingredients suggested.  I’ve tried other root vegetables and varieties of potato, but the flavor and starch content of Yukon gold’s is best.  I’ve used weird experimental vegetable and bone stocks that I make from kitchen scraps, but the simple flavor and golden color of a good homemade chicken broth is much better.  I’ve skipped the Serrano ham and, although this certainly did not ruin the soup, the only reason to skip it is if you don’t eat pork.  I’ve used other kinds of vinegar for the final splash of acidity and, again, the soup wasn’t ruined but Sherry vinegar has by the far the best affinity for the almonds and saffron in the soup.  I do not buy aged Sherry vinegar (as this recipe suggest) because it’s too expensive. I’m sure it’s better, I’m just not about to start an expensive vinegar habit.

All of this is to say you can read the recipe here or go visit Food 52 which included this soup recipe in its excellent genius recipes series.  The only thing I’ve added are some nice photos and tiny comments about my preferences.  Either way, make this soup!

IMG_1638POTATO AND FRIED ALMOND SOUP

by Anya Von Bremen by way of Food 52

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
  • large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) finely diced Serrano ham or prosciutto
  • cups chicken broth, or more if needed
  • pinch saffron, crushed
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • teaspoons sherry vinegar, preferably aged, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  1. Scrub or peel the potatoes (I like the potatoes unpeeled).  Cut the potatoes into irregular chunks by inserting the tip of a small, sharp knife into a potato and twisting until a 1 1/2 chunk comes out. Repeat until the entire potato is cut up, then continue with the remaining potatoes; set aside. You could also roughly chop in 1 1/2 inch chunks but the irregular shape is nice here.IMG_1546
  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the almonds and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes, adjusting the heat so the oil doesn’t burn. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the almonds and garlic to a bowl to cool slightly. Add the ham to the pan and stir for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the soup.
  3. Meanwhile, place the almond and garlic mixture in a food processor and grind it. If you like almond bits in your soup, grind the mixture somewhat coarsely; otherwise, grind it fine (I liked it ground fine). Add all but about 2 tablespoons to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Steep the saffron in a few tablespoons of the soup broth for 2 minutes, then add it to the soup. Simmer the soup, partially covered, until about half the potatoes have disintegrated, about 35 minutes. Skim the soup as it cooks if you like (I skipped that), and add a little more stock if the soup seems too thick (mine was never too thick).
  5. When ready to serve, check the texture of the soup. If you’d like it creamier, break up some of the potatoes with a sturdy spoon. Add the vinegar to the reserved ground almond mixture and stir it into the soup (I’ve started to just stare the vinegar into the soup and then sprinkle the leftover almonds on top as a garnish). Add the parsley and cook for a minute. Taste for seasoning, adding a little more vinegar if necessary. I don’t eat bread, but if you do it is supposed to go well with this soup!

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About Big Sis Little Dish

This is a blog run by two sisters. Erin is the big sister who lives in New York, and Silvi is the little sister who lives in Vancouver. They both love to cook! They created this blog to share and store recipes for the food they make.

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