august 11, 2020
Cooking doesn’t always need to involve heat. Chopping, tossing and blending are all easy methods of cool food preparation, with no flame in sight. The work of a good blender is the only electricity involved in making this refreshing summer soup featuring just-picked basil and chilled buttermilk.
This is also a dish that promotes thoughtful eating, slowly savoring the vivid flavors of all the pretty green things packed into this soup : fresh basil, avocado, scallion and cucumber. Slow eating, or at least slower enjoyment of meals, is my goal and soup accomplishes this nicely. Hard to fathom, but I still love a hot soup or stew even when it’s triple digits in the shade, like Crab Corn Chowder.
You can’t beat the ease of a make-ahead chilled soup like Zucchini Cilantro Soup or thick and spicy Coconut Corn Avocado Soup as a prelude to a grilled dinner or as a stand-alone light lunch. Today’s soup may not be the best candidate for making ahead and serving later—the mixture loses its bright color quickly and is best on the first day—yet with the addition of pure apple cider vinegar the flavor blooms nicely with a short chill time.
If you don’t grow your own basil, store bought is a perfectly acceptable substitute for homegrown. My preference is for full fat buttermilk, but the low fat version is easier to find. Your avocado can be a little firm or even a bit past its prime because all will be whirled together. I love the contrast in textures with a sprinkle of toasted nuts with this soup. Toasted sliced almonds were in abundance and those, plus an extra sprig of fresh basil, made this bright green soup a nice bowl of summer.
Basil Buttermilk Soup
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes about one quart
one medium cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
one medium avocado, peeled
2 scallions, trimmed
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
one medium clove garlic, zested with microplane
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
pure apple cider vinegar
2 cups chilled buttermilk
optional garnishes : toasted sliced almonds, fresh basil leaves
- In blender, combine cucumber with avocado, garlic, scallion and 1 cup basil; with machine running, carefully add 1 cup buttermilk through top opening.
- When smooth, add salt and pepper, rest of basil and 2 tablespoons cider vinegar.
- While mixing, gradually add the remainder of the buttermilk.
- After chilling at least one hour, adjust salt and pepper and add 1-2 more tablespoons cider vinegar according to taste (after chilling, acidity may decrease and need a boost).
- Soup is best on the day made, after chilling at least one hour; if enjoyed the next day, flavor will be good but color fades to a dull green.