Lemon basil key to refreshing soup served cold

Posted7/2/2015 6:00 AM
  • Avocado cold soup is perfect for a hot summer day.

      Avocado cold soup is perfect for a hot summer day. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Even a die-hard soup fan might put a hold on standing over a hot stove this time of year, but what about a nice cold avocado soup with cooling lemon and basil?

Now that's a summertime soup!

Think drinkable guacamole. However, instead of hot and spicy, this one is cool and soothing. The killer app for this recipe from soupaddict.com is lemon basil -- not something that's readily available in most grocery stores. You can always use the more common sweet basil and a touch more lemon peel to make this work, or you might consider experimenting with growing your own.

There's a world of basil out there -- more than 100 cultivars -- and it's easy to grow and fun to experiment with in the kitchen.

Lemon basil is perfect for this soup, but use it in seafood dishes, too. Or you could add it to a pasta dish. Think pasta, ricotta, olive oil, parmesan, lemon peel and lemon basil. See where I'm going with this?

Whatever you decide to do with your crop of lemon basil, add it at the end of the cooking cycle because it seems to lose its fresh flavor and aroma soon after it is heated.

Of course, lemon basil is just the beginning. Once you start growing your own basil, a whole new world of culinary exploration awaits you. Thai basil, for instance, adds a fresh anise/licorice flavor and can punch up a caprese salad, or use it in a stir fry. It's the perfect addition to a chicken soup, especially a Thai inspired chicken soup made with coconut milk lemon grass and lime. Of course, you can make an amazing mojito using Thai basil! (Rum, lime, sugar, Thai basil and club soda would be a good start.)

There's also lime basil, interesting in salads. Cinnamon basil can be used in baking or toss it in a chutney. Opal basil is a beautiful garnish and tulsi basil, which has a clove-like flavor, can be used in teas.

Once you start growing your own basil, there's no stopping the experimentation -- and what is better to experiment with than soup?

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