Thursday, February 12, 2009

Basil for a Creamy Tomato Bisque

I love basil. To me, it is the prince of herbs. Oh, sage may be a bit stronger in its fuzzy, musky way, and rosemary may be more pungent, but, to me, fresh basil says sunshine and blue sky and a Mediterranean villa. Aaaahh.

Every summer I make sure that I have a basil plant that I can run out and snip a sprig off of to put in my salad or put on the chicken before I pop it in the oven. I keep a pair of scissors handy so I can cut up the leaves instead of bruising them with a knife on a cutting board. I find that the edges of the leaves turn black if they’re not cut cleanly.

The problem with basil is, it’s a warm weather plant. It’s like me. Doesn’t like to be cold. So, I’m not able to set it out in my little container garden on my deck until July. Then, I can have a plant on my deck through July, August and September. About Mid October it’s getting pretty nippy at night, and I can see my basil plant starting to look kind of puny. And then one day, it just disappears. Pfffft. It’s gone. Like it never existed. It’s a plant that really, really can’t tolerate the least degree of frost.

So that leaves me fresh basil-less for nine months. Or, it did until I discovered a marvelous product put out by Utsalady Farm. It’s fresh basil you can buy at the grocery store, but it’s not like the cut herbs such as you can see in the picture to the left. That’s some packaged fresh basil I bought on the same day that I bought the basil in the next picture—both of them about a week ago.

Utsalady Farm is located on Camano Island, between here and Seattle, and they raise basil hydroponically. When it’s time to harvest, they simply pull up the whole plant and send it to market. You buy it, take it home, and put it in a glass with water in the bottom, where it continues to thrive.

Utsalady Farm is small--only about 10 acres--but it supports

two families.

They sell their entire crop to Haggen’s , an upscale grocery store in the Washington/Oregon area, so if

you’ve got a Haggen’s nearby, you can get Utsalady basil there.

Here’s my recipe for Creamy Tomato Bisque

1 quart chicken stock
2 cans diced tomatoes, pureed
1 full sprig fresh basil, snipped into tiny pieces
½ onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. sugar

Heat above ingredients together, simmering for 5 minutes.

Dissolve ¼ cup cornstarch in ½ cup water and add to tomato mixture, stirring as it thickens.

Turn down to low and add ½ cup heavy whipping cream.

When you serve, snip basil to float on top, and grate parmesan cheese over the soup.

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Valerie Ipson said...

This recipe sounds yummy and perfect for the cold-to-me Arizona evenings! I'll have to try it. Thanks for sharing!

Tristi Pinkston said...

That does sound delicious!

Cindy Beck said...

It does sound yummy. I wonder if you can grow basil indoors, as a house plant?

Chris and his Basil said...

Yes you can Cindy. Just make sure it gets some sun.