Morning, and the kitchen is quiet, with sunlight streaming across the sink and onto the wood floors, and I pour coffee, grab my lunch, take my keys from the little basket by the door. There will be 20 minutes at least, between me and the office, along expressways of commuters, and I will look at them, talking on their phones, singing with their radios, glancing at their watches, before I park and walk inside, up stairs to my desk, to begin the work day, to talk with my coworkers and double-check spellings at Merriam-Webster and watch the geese fly past my window and onto the roof.
5:30, and I’m getting in my car, like I’ve done so many times, and I’m stopping by the train station, like I do every day, and I’m walking in my front door, and I’m eating dinner, again. It’s spring here—when did spring come? Weren’t we just talking about fall and winter and how I hated the snow? The light lasts longer now, and the days are warmer, rainy. I take it all, eagerly, greedily, like it will never end.
You know, I’m only 26—I find myself throwing the only in there more and more, the way it’s inserted into excuses from guilty children like, I only skipped one homework assignment or I only said that because the other kids did. But as much as I know we are guaranteed nothing, in terms of time, in terms of living, I also know 26 is, usually, not a lot of life to have lived and, usually, it’s not enough time to warrant strong opinions or heavy reminiscing. But I do: I look at the moments around me—the way the grass looks when it’s wet, shiny with dew and fragrant with summer; how my mom makes me laugh when she does, when her mouth closes and her nose widens and her eyes slant, just slightly, as her body shakes, like her mother’s did; the kindness someone shows you when he carries in your bags, so you don’t have to—and I think, I am living this.
This, right here—the morning coffee and the conversation and the drive home in daylight to a cozy evening with a book and blankets—this is life, and it’s a gift, and I am living this.
Sunday night, for my brother, I made this soup. He helped me remove shells from pistachios, unpopping their hard, tan skins and piling their green and purple bodies into a measuring cup, which reminded me of the biscotti I made, almost three years ago for a wedding, when my dad and I shelled bags of pistachios like clockwork on the sofa, for hours. And I chopped an onion and some celery and a clove of garlic, softening them all with a half a stick of butter in a big pot on the stove, and the smell was intoxicating, like music, buttery and fresh and sweet, the scent of Thanksgiving stuffing or a warm night at my grandma’s house. And we ate it, this creamy nutty soup, he and I, while we laughed about something I don’t remember now, in a way that’s everyday and not at all, and it was good.
Cream of Pistachio Soup
Adapted from CDKitchen.com
I have decided, now that it’s ending, that the redeeming part of winter is, without a doubt, soup. This version is pure creamy, savory comfort, with the taste of pistachios and just a tiny bit of crunch from the crushed nuts you sprinkle on top. It’s hot and soothing. It’s milky and nutty. It’s a nice way to spend an evening, especially with people you care about.
As far as the recipe proper, my biggest suggestion regards the broth. I was out, so I used bouillon cubes to make my own, and, although this worked, it made the results a little saltier than I’d prefer. Next time, I’d use a low-sodium broth from a can and just add salt to taste. Play with it, though. Let me know what works for you.
1 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons dry sherry
6 cups regular-strength chicken broth (or 1 49.5-ounce can of chicken broth)
1/4 cup cooked white rice
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 cup heavy cream
Rub off as much of the pistachio skins as possible, set nuts aside. In a large pan over medium heat, cook the onion, celery and garlic in the butter until onion is very limp but not brown, about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add sherry, 3/4 cup of the pistachios, broth, rice and parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender to bite, about 25 minutes. In a blender or food processor (or using a stick blender), whirl soup, a portion at a time, until very smooth, pour through a wire strainer and discard residue. Return soup to pan.
Add cream to soup and stir over medium-low heat until hot, 5 to 7 minutes. Garnish servings with whole chives and sprinkle with the remaining pistachios.