Where has all the basil gone?

I woke up yesterday morning with a craving for coconut curry soup.

It didn’t help that the only thing I had to “eat” all day was a protein smoothie. So by mid-afternoon, with hunger setting in, I made a mental list of what I’d need for the soup.

I had most of the ingredients at home. Some nice fresh vegetables, bite-sized shrimp (I usually use tofu, but I wanted to make it teen friendly this time around). I just needed coconut milk – and fresh basil.

I was close to a Walmart store when I started my quest. Surely I could pop in there, get what I need and get out. I found the coconut milk OK, but basil? Where was the basil? There was tarragon, mint, rosemary – but no basil! How can that be?

When I get something in my head I am determined to get it done, so I drove down the road to the Asian store, where they sometimes have Thai basil. Not today, but it was worth a shot.

I had to drop Simon off at his girlfriend’s house, so stopped at the Winn-Dixie store close by. Sage, thyme, mint – again no basil! What craziness is this? At this point I was beginning to get frustrated. I can’t make coconut curry soup without fresh basil!

Another Walmart close by – no basil again. I have never heard of such a thing. Four stores, no basil. I was on the verge of giving up, but thought I’d stop at the Corner Market near my house.

Success at last! I was never so glad to see a package of those aromatic green leaves!

Coconut curry soup

1 pound extra firm tofu

1 1/2 pounds fresh vegetables, sliced (any combination of zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, green beans, carrots)

2 cans coconut milk

1 quart vegetable broth

juice of 1 lime

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

4 stalks fresh lemongrass, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon turmeric (optional – for color)

2 teaspoons green curry paste

2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

In a large sauce pan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Stir in lemongrass and ginger. Add vegetable broth, lemon and lime juice, turmeric curry paste and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Add coconut milk. Let simmer 5 minutes. Add tofu and simmer another 5 minutes. Add vegetables and let simmer for a few minutes longer – until vegetables are done to your taste. I prefer mine crunchy and colorful.

Serve over rice.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves and chopped jalapeño or Thai chili sauce.

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