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Almond Soup

1 1/4 c. chopped blanched (skinless) almonds
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 lg. clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. freshly minced ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. water or stock
1 1/2 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
1-2 tbsp. dry sherry
1/2 tsp. fresh orange rind
Black and cayenne pepper to taste

In a heavy skillet, cook the almonds in butter, with onion, garlic, ginger and salt over a low flame; stirring until the almonds are toasty and the onions are soft (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat. Using a blender or food processor, puree the sauteed mixture in combined water (or stock) and orange juice. Add sherry to taste. Make sure the puree is very smooth. Transfer it to a kettle or a saucepan. Stir in the orange rind and the black and cayenne pepper. Heat the soup gently (just heat it - don't cook it). Serve it as soon as it's hot and garnish each serving with assorted slivered almonds, finely minced chives, or thin rounds of fresh orange.

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