My favorite time of the year is here: soup season!
There’s just something so right about having a house filled with the smell of soup simmering away on the stove. Plus, like lasagna, the leftovers get even more flavorful when the ingredients have time to blend together.
Chicken noodle, potato chowder, and tomato bisque are all winter staples, but I bet cream of pistachio isn’t one of your top picks… yet.
This cream of pistachio soup took me completely by surprise. I love pistachios and, clearly, I love soup, but I never thought to put the two together.
When thinking of how to describe this recipe, the obvious came up: nutty, creamy, savory with a hint of sweet. But when I asked my husband to describe it, he said, “fun.”
At first, his answer baffled me. How can soup be fun?
But the more spoonfuls I took, the more I realized he’s right. And then my head started swimming with dinner party ideas where this recipe would make an impressive first course.
Ladled into your favorite bowl or large mug, this pistachio soup is deliciously cozy. And while it is creamy, it’s also surprisingly light, making it perfect as an appetizer or lunch. If you’re looking for a heartier meal, simply add a green salad and a piece of crusty bread on the side.
If I can give one piece of advice when making this dish, it’s to make sure your blender lid is securely on, and slowly increase the speed as you go. I made the mistake of setting my Vitamix to high from the start, and ended up with pistachio soup all over my window and dripping down the counter – to the delight of my puppy.
Between cleaning up the mess with one hand and trying to look up whether pistachios are dangerous for dogs with the other (good news, they aren’t), making this recipe ended up being more exciting than anticipated.
However, once the window was sparkling clean and the counter wiped up, I was able to sit down with a bowl of this soup and, with each spoonful, all that stress just melted away.
While onions are usually a staple of soups and stews, lately I prefer the more delicate flavor of shallots. Also a member of the allium family, shallots are more mild in flavor than onions and have a slight garlic taste.
They are a bit sweeter than onions, which is why I particularly like them for this recipe – the more mild flavor and slight sweetness pairs so well with the nutty pistachios.
However, if you want to use an onion instead, you can substitute 1/4 cup of diced yellow onion for the shallot.
While this dish is meant to be smooth, if you like a little more texture, you can skip pouring the blended mixture through a wire mesh sieve before serving.
I made it both ways, and my husband preferred having that extra texture. But if I were to make it for guests, I’d go ahead and strain it.
And don’t worry if you or your guests are non-dairy – we have recommendations for equally delicious ways to make this recipe vegan below.Print
Keep warm with a bowl of homemade cream of pistachio soup. Nutty, creamy, and savory, this recipe is the epitome of cozy.
- 1 1/4 cups shelled, roasted unsalted pistachios, divided
- 1 medium shallot, diced (about ¼ cup)
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup uncooked brown rice
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 1 cup half and half
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Remove pistachio skins and set aside.
- Place a large pot over medium heat, and add oil. Once oil is hot, reduce heat to low and add the diced shallot and celery. Cook for 8 minutes, or until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until fragrant.
- Add the sherry, 1 cup pistachios, broth, rice, and 2 tablespoons parsley to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
- Add the half and half and stir over medium-low heat until hot, about 5 minutes
- Using a countertop or immersion blender, blend until smooth.
- For a smooth consistency, pour through a wire mesh strainer and discard any large pieces. Return to the pot. If soup has cooled, reheat on the stove over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
- Chop the remaining pistachios. Pour soup into individual bowls and garnish with chopped pistachios and parsley. Enjoy immediately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Keywords: pistachio, soup, lunch, vegetarian
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure Ingredients, Chop Vegetables, and Remove Pistachio Skins
Measure out all of the ingredients.
I prefer a dry sherry when cooking savory dishes, as it gives a good depth of flavor without adding too much sweetness.
If you don’t have sherry, a crisp white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio would work well. In general, I try to avoid cooking sherry and cooking wine as they have added salt to extend their shelf lives.
If you’re looking for an alcohol-free option, apple cider vinegar is a good choice. In recipes like this one where the amount of sherry is small, you can substitute an equal amount of vinegar for the sherry.
Using a sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board, chop the celery and dice the shallot. Remove the stems from the parsley, and finely chop the leaves. Get out your trusty garlic press and mince the garlic.
To remove the pistachio skins, my preferred method is to blanch them.
Place 1 1/4 cups of pistachios in 2 cups of boiling water and boil for 1 minute.
Transfer them to a colander and rinse with cold water.
Using a paper towel, vigorously rub a small handful of nuts at a time to remove the skins.
Chop 1/4 cup of pistachios for garnish, and leave the rest whole.
Step 2 – Saute Vegetables
Place a large stock pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the oil.
Once oil is hot, reduce heat to low and add the diced shallot and chopped celery.
Cook for 8 minutes, or until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally. You don’t want the vegetables to stick or the onion to brown – keep an eye on the pan, and turn down the heat if necessary.
Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
Step 3 – Add Ingredients and Simmer
Add the sherry, 1 cup of blanched pistachios, broth, rice, and 2 tablespoons of parsley to the pot.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
Step 4 – Add Half and Half
Stir in the half and half and continue cooking over medium-low heat until hot, about 5 minutes.
Step 5 – Blend
To blend the soup, you can either use an immersion blender, or carefully transfer it into a countertop blender.
Blend until smooth, working in batches if necessary.
Step 6 – Strain and Reheat
For a smooth consistency, carefully pour the soup through a wire mesh strainer, and discard any large pieces. This may not be necessary if you’re able to achieve a smooth consistency using a high-speed blender. Return soup to the pot.
To reheat before serving, place the pot back on the stove over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until heated through.
Step 7– Garnish and Serve
Ladle into bowls, and garnish with chopped pistachios and parsley leaves. Serve immediately. Leftovers may be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To make this dish vegan, you can replace the half and half with cashew cream. You could also use an unsweetened coconut or soy creamer. I tried making this with unsweetened almond milk as well, and while the taste was still on point, the overall consistency was much thinner.
For the butter, you can either use a vegan margarine or 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
Your New Favorite First Course
Forget salad, soup is an easy, yet creative first course option for your next dinner party.
Perfect for using up any leftover veggies sitting in the fridge or eating what’s in season, soups can be an affordable way to feed a crowd. Best of all, they can also be a fun way to add a pop of color to your meal.
Check out these colorful vegetable soups on Foodal:
What’s your favorite non-traditional soup recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to rate this dish when you give it a try!
Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on March 10, 2009. Last updated: January 30, 2019 at 16:25 pm.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Kelli McGrane
Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.