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The Bouquet Garni Gourmet Soup Guide

“Soup is the song of the hearth….and the home.” – The Gourmet Soup Guide

gourmet soup recipes

The saying goes ‘variety is the spice of life’ and that is what the culinary herbs and spices are all about. Adding effortless variety to your daily cooking.

Being herb lovers we don’t enjoy the winter months. But even we are comforted by the thought of curling up by a blazing fire with a bowl of hot, hearty, nutritious soup and a slab of crusty bread and herb butter. And if we can have a glass of gluhwein on the side – even the better.

See if you agree with the Staff at Allrecipes.com who said the following about the culinary characteristics of soup:

“Soup is a many-splendored thing; as soup, more than any other food, invite you to innovate and experiment, making something fabulous with what you’ve already got on your shelves.

Soup is the most improvisation-friendly food in the world. You can substitute, increase, decrease, exclude and include ingredients to your hearts content without fear of disaster.

What’s more…

A bowl of soup can be a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal with a wonderful array of flavours, textures and nutrients from every food group. And soup can be hearty, healthy, and filling without being fattening.”

gourmet soup guide

We especially like their descriptions of soup being a “stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal” and it being “the most improvisation-friendly food in the world.” Many a time, when making soup, you feel like a toddler in a candy store. Not knowing what to put in and what to leave out of the soup pot.

But there’s a lot more to soup than just being a “stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal”, it’s also a powerhouse of nutrition and healing properties.

“I’m sure that the tips and ideas, soup bouquets garnis,  recipes and endless variations in this gourmet soup guide will make you the soup talk of the town.” – The Gourmet Soup Guide

 

14 Quick Gourmet Soup Tips and Ideas

Use these tips and ideas to help stretch your food budget with one of the oldest and most nutritious, varied, and international of all dishes.

The Top 5 Gourmet Soup Herbs

If you are serious about creating gourmet soups you’ll find these indispensable in your arsenal. We’ve also included a list of 36 popular soup flavourings.

Gourmet Soup Recipe Archive

gourmet soup guide

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How To Make Your Own Fines Herbes Blend

chervil in flower
Fresh chervil is a key ingredient in Fines Herbes

One single herb can make the world of difference to any dish but when herbs are used in combination with each other, the effects can be even more delicious. Some herbs work well together, their flavours blending and complementing each other. One such example is the traditional bouquet garni, which consists of parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Another is a traditional French blend called fines herbes.

Fines herbes consists of tarragon, parsley, chervil and chives. Although the blend is sometimes used dried, none of the herbs have much flavour in the dried form. So, it’s practically worthless as a dried herb blend.

Maximum flavour is obtained by using fresh herbs. Rather omit a herb that is not available fresh than to substitute it with dried herb.

All four herbs used in fines herbes have subtle flavours that blend well together and complement and enhance each other’s flavour. The subtle nature of the blend also ensures that it does not overpower any dish.

To make your own fines herbes, finely chop equal parts of tarragon, parsley, chervil and chives. Fines herbes should be added to cooked dishes at the end of the cooking period as the herbs, with the exception of tarragon, do not stand up well to heat. For the best results, sprinkle the mixture over dishes as a garnish, or place it in a bowl on the table.

Fines herbes are excellent when sprinkled over green salads. It goes particularly well with egg dishes, especially omelet’s. Use it to garnish light vegetable or simple cream-based soups.

Chicken, especially when poached, greatly benefits when sprinkled with this blend before being served. Fines herbes are excellent with simple fish dishes. Steamed vegetables, like beans, marrows and broccoli becomes a delicacy when flavoured with this blend.

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Tips for Making Your Own Bouquet Garni

A home-made bouquet garni made with fresh herbs is a powerful flavour-building tool. Photo source: iStockPhoto
A home-made bouquet garni made with fresh herbs is a powerful flavour-building tool. Photo source: iStockPhoto

As cooks we are always looking for easy ways to increase the flavour and interest of our dishes. One of the secret, healthy and nutritious, ways of doing this is to use blends of fresh herbs, spices and aromatic flavourings.

A bouquet garni – the French term for a ‘bundle of herbs’ – is one of the most popular of these blends of herbs and spices, but it’s a lot more than a mere bundle of herbs.

It’s A Powerful Flavour Building Tool

Bouquets garnis are a powerful flavour building tool in the busy cook’s repertoire. They will assist you in creating a nearly endless variety of nutritious gourmet meals. They will help you become a domestic goddess in no time at all.

Your Aim When Making a Bouquet Garni

Your aim in should be to produce a balanced, complex flavour that makes your diner want to take another bite, not analyse it. In other words – don’t overpower your dish with the bouquet garni.

Ideas and Recipes

  • Start with the classic French bouquet garni recipe for inspiration.
  • Then take your culinary adventure one step further. Start by changing proportions, next try to add, delete or substitute herbs. You can also try the same bouquet garni with different dishes.
  • For Beef: bay leaf, parsley and thyme wrapped in an outer piece of leek.
  • For Pork: sage, celery, parsley, and thyme.
  • For Lamb: rosemary, garlic, oregano or marjoram, and thyme.
  • For Poultry: parsley, bay, tarragon, and bruised lemon grass.
  • For Fish: parsley, tarragon, thyme, and a strip of lemon peel.
  • For Vegetables: oregano, thyme, parsley and sage.
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Two Gourmet Soup Seasoning Recipes

soup seasoning on a cutting board
soup seasoning on a cutting board
These home-made soup seasoning recipes adds new heights and depth to your existing soups.

You can use these soup seasoning recipes liberally with any beef, vegetable or chicken soup. They are also great for improving bland commercial soups. If you don’t have a specific herb simply omit it. You can make the dried blend ahead of time.

Dried soup seasoning recipe:
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
½ tablespoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried winter savory

Use about 1 level tablespoon of the dried blend for every 2 cups of soup. This can go in right from the start.

Fresh soup seasoning recipe for every 2 cups of soup:
1-2 teaspoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoon chervil, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons basil, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Add the fresh blend about 10 minutes before serving. The lemon zest may seem like an odd ingredient but it enhances the other flavours without actually being detectable.

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How To Make a Classic Bouquet Garni

bouquet garni photo
A freshly prepared bouquet garni for flavouring a variety of dishes.

The classic bouquet garni recipe is a quick and easy way to add a new dimension to casseroles, stews, potjiekos, soups, and my personal favourite – oven baked vegetables. And you only need three herbs to make it.

The classic recipe consists of parsley, thyme and bay. Nowadays we also add a twig of rosemary, a stick of celery or a little slice of lemon peel. Fennel leaves will also liven up the taste. But these are all optional additions.

Tip: Try adding a bouquet garni next time you make your own stock and taste the difference. That includes store bought stock. Simply infuse the herbs in the prepared stock.

Now that you know how easy it is to make a bouquet garni, give it a bash and impress your guests with your skillful flavouring of the cooking pot.

You’l find many more recipes on our main recipe page. We also stock a range of exotic spices and freeze dried herbs in the Eco Herb Shop.

Classic Bouquet Garni Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
By:
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Tie up the three sprigs of fresh parsley, one of fresh thyme and one fresh bay leaf (and any other herbs) into a small bunch.
  2. Add the bunch to the dish right from the start to give the flavours time to marry.
  3. Remove it just before serving. This is to prevent your diners from discovering your secret to flavouring your cooking pot. Just joking, but that's what the French used to do.
Notes
I prefer to use fresh herbs, but dried herbs are just as successful. Use 1 heaped tablespoon dried parsley, 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I prefer a level tablespoon lemon thyme) and a single dried bay leaf. Tie up the dried herbs in a small bag sewn of muslin. Or grind the parsley and thyme and add to the dish. Add the bay leaf whole and remove before serving.

 

Click to view our Chef's Pantry Recipe Archive.
Click to view our Chef’s Pantry Recipe Archive.