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A brush with basil! Rachel Allen puts the herb to good use in recipes for soup, Thai broth, pesto and a mojito

Explore the many variations of this versatile herb with these easy, delicious recipes, perfect for an al fresco summer lunch — and finish off with a Cuban mojito twist

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Rachel Allen's courgette and basil soup. Picture by Tony Gavin

Rachel Allen's courgette and basil soup. Picture by Tony Gavin

"The courgettes and basil don’t get cooked so the flavours are super-fresh and perfect for a sunny starter." Ingredients for Rachel Allen's courgette and basil soup. Picture by Tony Gavin

"The courgettes and basil don’t get cooked so the flavours are super-fresh and perfect for a sunny starter." Ingredients for Rachel Allen's courgette and basil soup. Picture by Tony Gavin

Rachel Allen's courgette and basil soup. Picture by Tony Gavin

Rachel Allen's courgette and basil soup. Picture by Tony Gavin

"All three varieties of basil can be grown here in a glasshouse or polytunnel, and they are also to be found in some Asian food shops." Rachel Allen picks basil at Ballymaloe. Picture by Tony Gavin

"All three varieties of basil can be grown here in a glasshouse or polytunnel, and they are also to be found in some Asian food shops." Rachel Allen picks basil at Ballymaloe. Picture by Tony Gavin

Basil plants growing at Ballymaloe. Picture by Tony Gavin

Basil plants growing at Ballymaloe. Picture by Tony Gavin

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Rachel Allen's courgette and basil soup. Picture by Tony Gavin

The sweet floral notes of basil make it the most summery of herbs, bringing instant sunshine and goodness to soups, salads, sauces and summer stews.

Basil’s aniseed aromas and sweet, peppery flavour make it the ideal companion to summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines and, of course, it loves cheeses like Parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta. The original Genoese basil pesto is the boldest expression of basil. All the other ingredients simply serve to enhance and augment the flavour of the basil, and when a basil pesto is good, it can be the most delicious addition to everything from pasta to grilled lamb chops or roast chicken.


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