Creamy Broccoli Soup with Almond Romano Pesto

I recently purchased this cookbook. The first recipe I attempted was this soup and it was fabulous.  I DID substitute half and half for the cream, I must admit. 
I wrote and asked permission from the authors to share it with everyone, they were delighted to.  Was able to use 4 items from my weekly basket!
serves 6
6 cups (1.5 L) vegetable stock (p. 35)
2 tbsp (3O mL) vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh thyme
1 112 tsp (7.5 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) red chile flakes
1 large potato, peeled and diced
4 broccoli stalks (2 cups florets
1/2 lb (225 g) spinach, stemmed
1 cup (24O mL) heavy cream
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cracked pepper
1/2 bunch ltalian parsley, stemmed
1/2 cup (12O mL) toasted, sliced
2 .garlic cloves
1/2 cup (12O mL) grated Romano
1/4 cup (60 mLi olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat stock and keep it warm while preparing the soup. Heat oil
in a soup pot over medium-high heat and saut6 the onion until
translucent. Add garlic, salt, thyme and chile flakes and saut6
until golden. stir in broccoli and potato; cook for several minutes.
Add warm stock to cover; bring to a simmer and cook, paftially
covered, until the broccoli and potatoes are just tender.
stir in the spinach leaves and turn off the heat. Let the soup rest
until the spinach wilts, then pur6e until smooth. Reheat the
pur6e, add cream and more stock to thin, if necessary. Season
to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a hard boil. Add the
salt and reserved broccoli florets and blanch until just done and
bright green (about 1 minute). Strain immediately and plunge the
florets into a bowl of ice water. Let them cool off, then strain
and spread out on a clean, dry towel to drain. Set aside
To prepare the pesto, place the parsley, almonds, garlic and
cheese in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the
olive oil and pur6e, stopping short of making it completely
smooth. Blend in salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the soup hot, with a swirl of pesto in each bowl and
garnished with broccoli florets.