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Andalusian Onion and Almond Soup
(Cebollada con Almendras)
This delectable and delicate soup dates back to a 16th century cookbook, the first in the Spanish language, written by Ruperto de Nola, chef to King Ferdinando. Serve hot as a first course to 6 people.
Garnish: 6 slices French-style bread, 1/4 inch thick, lightly toasted in the oven; ½ ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated; sliced toasted almonds (the orginal recipe actually called for a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar, but that's just a quirk of those spice-mad Renaissance rascals!)
Heat the oil in a large pot, then saute the onion slices until they are wilted, not brown. Add the stock, wine, bay leaf, parsley, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Take the almonds and grind them as finely as possible in a blender--then slowly add ½ cup of the hot soup broth, blending it to a milky liquid. Strain the broth back into the soup pot. (If big chunks of almond are left, you can repeat the blending process--but be careful not to put any chunks of almond in the soup. Stir in cumin. Cover again and simmer 30 more minutes.
When ready to serve, remove the parsley and bay leaf. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top each with a slice of toast sprinkled with cheese. Run under a broiler for a minute until the bread and cheese are golden. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the toasted almonds.