1 ¼ cups walnuts (5-ounces)
2-3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
4 cardamom pods, seeds only
¼ cup walnut oil
Preheat oven to 275°F. Place walnuts on a medium-sized baking sheet and place in oven to toast, about 6 to 10 minutes. Nuts are done when the center of a nut (when broken in half) is a light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
Set aside ¼ cup walnuts in a small bowl. Toss with a drizzle of walnut oil (reserving the ¼ cup walnut oil for the walnut purée) and season with salt and pepper. Save to use as a garnish.
Place remaining walnuts in a small sauce pan, add salt, pepper, bay leaf, cardamom seeds, walnut oil and enough stock to cover walnuts by 1 ½ inches. Cook until walnuts are soft (you should be able to smash one with the back of a spoon) and the stock has reduced to the level of the nuts. Remove the bay leaf.
Pour into hand blender and blend until completely smooth, at least 3 minutes. If you do not have a hand blender, a food processor or blender are good equipment substitutes.
Transfer to a small pot and cover with wax paper to keep warm.