Someday I will do a week full of soups with funny names (Cock-a-Leekie, anyone?). But now I've gone and used up one of the primest candidates for such a category: Mulligatawny.
This is not a quick and simple soup; it took the better part of a couple of hours (though plenty of that was simmering time). It's also a good choice if you have someone to help you with cleanup (or, better yet, do it for you), since it dirties up a plethora of pans and other utensils.
That said, I thought Jim's eyes were going to roll back in his head from pure pleasure. This is a truly awesome-tasting soup. Sophisticated, a little exotic, with a warm nubbly flavor/texture from the homemade almond milk... seriously, if you have a not-too-much-going-on sort of a day coming up, block out a little time and give this one a try.
Taken almost directly from Splendid Soups by James Peterson
1 cup blanched almonds, whole or slivered
1 cup water
3 Tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped (they'll be pureed, so don't freak out too much about even size/shape)
2 waxy (like Yellow Finn) potatoes, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
About half a bunch of spinach, washed, stems trimmed, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
About 1-1/2 tbsp curry powder and/or garam masala (I used 3 tsp curry powder and 2 tsp garam masala)
1 tsp (Drunken Angel) hot sauce, if your curry powder is not very spicy
1/2 cup cream or coconut milk
About 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Any time during the day before you make the soup: Heat oven to 350. Spread almonds on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until toasted to an even light brown, probably 10-15 minutes. (This will smell A.MAZING.)
Allow almonds to cool slightly. Combine in a blender jar with 1 cup water (plus maybe 1 or 2 Tbsp more water). Blend for a long time until extremely smooth. Seriously. Just switch the blender on and walk away for 2 or 3 minutes.
Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. This will produce your Almond Milk. Set it aside until you need it.
Heat ghee or butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and potatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until veggies are becoming tender and onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add broth and salt; bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are completely tender and can be crushed against the side of the pot with a spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbsp in a small skillet. Add curry powder and/or garam masala and fry for just a couple of minutes, until spices are very fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Puree soup in batches in a blender (remember! only half-full! and hold a towel over the top!) until very smooth. Return to pot.
Over medium-low heat, whisk in almond milk, curry/garam masala mixture, and hot sauce, if you're using it. Bring soup to a barest simmer. Whisk in cream and cilantro. Taste; correct salt and pepper; serve it forth.
If you have some extra roasted almonds, they would look darn purty sprinkled over the top of this soup; but if you don't, no problem. Enjoy.