For the soup:
For the basil oil:
For the black pepper croutons:
For the garnishes:
1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened and very lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the lettuce, in batches if necessary, and cook until gently wilted.
2. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add the salt, and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the soup to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Make the basil oil. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Prepare a medium-sized bowl with ice and water for an ice bath. Add the basil leaves to the boiling water and blanch for 10 seconds. Drain the leaves into a small sieve and place the sieve into the ice bath. After the leaves are cooled, squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands. Place the basil into a blender along with the olive oil and salt and process for 1 minute. Line your sieve with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and place this over a clean bowl. Pour the oil-and-basil mixture into the sieve and allow to strain into the bowl.
4. Add the cooled soup to the blender, along with the yogurt, herbs, and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Blend on high for 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Chill the soup in the refrigerator.
5. Make the black pepper croutons. Cut the flatbread into long, thin slices about 1/4-inch thick and 2 inches long. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Toss in the bread slices and stir with a wooden spoon, allowing them to crisp and become evenly golden. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour out onto a small rimmed baking sheet to cool.
6. To serve, ladle each portion into a cold soup bowl. Garnish with some reserved leaves from the heart of the romaine topped with a little lump crabmeat. Drizzle with a teaspoon of basil oil and sprinkle on a few croutons and finely chopped chives.
Makes 4 (1-cup) servings
Photos by Matthew Benson
Originally published in Organic Gardening Magazine April/May 2013.