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Carrot with Toasted Almond Soup

['1 cup sliced shallots (about 4 large)', '1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf', '1/4 teaspoon ground ginger', 'Rounded 3/4 teaspoon curry powder', '1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme', '1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter', '1 small boiling potato (3 oz)', '1 1/2 lb carrots, peeled and cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick', '1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)', '1 cup apple cider (preferably unfiltered)', '1 1/4 cups water', '3/4 teaspoon salt', '1/4 teaspoon black pepper', '1/4 cup sliced almonds', 'toasted']

Cook shallots, bay leaf, ginger, curry powder, and thyme in butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened and pale golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
Add potato to shallot mixture along with carrots, broth, cider, water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender until smooth, transferring as blended to a large bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to saucepan to reheat if necessary. Serve soup sprinkled with almonds.

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