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The Top 5 Soup Herbs

gourmet soup guide top 5 herbs

#1: Parsley

At the top of the list is parsley as it’s such an excellent garnish for all your soups. And don’t forget flat-leaf parsley (Italian parsley) which will not only serve as a garnish but it will also add loads of flavour and nutrition, especially when used with Lovage in soup stocks.

# 2: Chives

Chives is a close second because it’s also an excellent garnish and because it adds a delicate oniony aroma to almost any soup. Always add just before serving.

#3: Lovage

Lovage gives more depth and flavour to the stock of all soups. It is especially good when combined with flat-leaf parsley. Use the stems as well as the leaves for better flavour.

#4 – 5: Winter Savory and Thyme

Winter Savory and thyme are good soup all rounders which can be used in a wide variety of soups. And they both make nice additions to bouquets garnis. Combine them with parsley, chives and lovage to liven up your existing soup recipes.

#6 – 10: Basil, Bay leaf, Celery, Cloves and Marjoram

These are all close contenders for the top 5 position because they are so versatile and because they all work so well with each other. If you are serious about creating gourmet soups you’ll find them indispensable in your arsenal.

36 Popular Soups Herbs and Spices

Here’s a list of the 36 herbs and spices we recommend in this Gourmet Soup Guide. You will note that we use the classification system we developed for making your own bouquets garnis. If you need more information on this system and how it will improve your cooking read this article.

Fusion Soup Herbs:

Bay leaf, chervil, chives, marjoram, parsley.

Mild Soup Herbs:

Anise, basil, borage, dill, fennel, celery, coriander, salad burnet.

Robust Soup Herbs:

Garlic, ginger, hyssop, lemon balm, lovage, mint, oregano, savory, sorrel, tarragon, thyme.

Soup Flavourings and Spices:

Allspice, cardamom, cayenne, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin, juniper, mace, nutmeg, paprika, rosemary, sage, turmeric.

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14 Quick Soup Tips and Ideas

blog post title 14 quick soup tips

  1. Soup is one of the oldest, most nutritious, varied and international of dishes.
  2. Soups can help to stretch your food budget by using perfectly good leftover foods in a new tasty dish.
  3. A cup of soup makes a delicious, nutritious snack.
  4. A cup or bowl of soup plus a sandwich or salad makes a light meal.
  5. In a hurry? Use your favourite condensed soup. Add extra frozen or canned vegetables and leftover cooked meat or cooked dry beans.
  6. Ingredients for soup can include foods from several of the food groups.
  7. Soups can provide high quality protein, fiber, and vitamins needed for good health.
  8. Homemade soups can be lower in salt than canned soups if you use herbs for flavouring instead of salt.
  9. Try your soups as starters, main dishes and side dishes with a healthy home-made salad.
  10. If you won’t be eating the soup right after you have prepared it, or you have leftover soup, chill by setting pot of hot soup in a sink filled with ice and water. Stir often until soup stops steaming. Put soup in smaller containers and store in refrigerator right away. Use within 3-4 days.
  11. Freeze soup for longer storage. Leave 2-3 cm head space at top of container, because liquids expand as they freeze. Seal and label with relevant information.
  12. Thaw frozen soups in the refrigerator or microwave. Do not thaw on the kitchen counter.
  13. To reheat soup, cook over low heat to a boil. Add water if the soup is too thick.
  14. Garnishes greatly enhance the appearance and taste of a soup – particularly if you insist on using instant and canned soups. Apart from herbs and spices try the following:
    – Crisp bacon: remove the rind, cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until crisp. This is delicious on bean, tomato and potato soups.
    – Crisp fried onion rings for flavour and texture.
    – Add a dollop of yogurt, cream or sour cream just before serving.
    – Serve crushed ice in cold soups.
    – Grated cheese – cheddar, Parmesan or blue cheese – can change the character of your soup dramatically.

Garnishes will make your soup look beautiful, and the perfect garnish will add a whole new dimension to each mouthful. It does wonders for any kind of soup.

culinary herbs and spices

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Country Pea Soup with Rosemary

photo of country pea soup with rosemary
Country Pea Soup with Rosemary

If you are wondering if split pea soup can be improved ask Rosemary, she has the answer. This delightful recipe by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger is even better with the addition of smoked ham. Any pea soup improves in flavour when made in advance; thin it with a little water when reheating.

Country Pea Soup with Rosemary
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Serves: Serves 8
  • 700g split peas, washed and sorted
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
  1. Place split peas in a large soup pot and cover them with 5cm of water.
  2. Add the rosemary sprig and bay leaf.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil for 10 minutes, and then add them to the peas with the salt garlic and rosemary.
  5. Cook the soup over low heat for about 25 minutes, or until the peas are done, stirring occasionally.
  6. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot.

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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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7 Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes

“The secret of a good salad is its dressing. Not only does a dressing add flavour and interest but it also marries its individual ingredients into a harmonious whole.”

homemade salad dressing ingredients
Why buy salad dressings loaded with preservatives and artificials when you can mix a superior one yourself in minutes, using the freshest ingredients?

Salad dressings are not new – a basic mixture of olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt has been used since ancient times in the countries bordering the Mediterranean.

Today you can go into any food market and choose from a wide range of dressings. But why buy ready-made ones loaded with preservatives and artificial flavourings when you can mix a superior one yourself in minutes, using the finest and freshest ingredients.

The Classic Salad Dressing

The classic French salad dressing is known as a vinaigrette.

There is an old French saying that it takes four men to make a good vinaigrette: a spendthrift for the oil, a miser for the vinegar, a wise man for the salt and a madman for the pepper.

The classic proportions for a vinaigrette are 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. Salt and pepper are essential, and most French chefs will add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, some fresh herbs and a pinch of sugar to emulsify the dressing.

This classic vinaigrette adds flavour and interest to green salads, tomato, and cucumber salads.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons wine vinegar, preferably tarragon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the oil with the vinegar, mustard, herbs, and salt and pepper until well blended.

Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake vigorously to combine well before using.

This basic dressing can be varied in many ways:

Indian Style Salad Dressing

For cooked vegetables, rice or pasta. Add 1 small crushed garlic clove and 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion, fried until soft in 1 teaspoon oil with 1 teaspoon curry powder.

Anchovy Style Salad Dressing

For raw salads, potato, pasta, roasted sweet (bell) peppers or tomatoes. Thoroughly soak 4 anchovies to remove the salt and fillet them if necessary. Puree the with 1 teaspoon capers. Add this mixture to the classic vinaigrette.

Herb Salad Dressing

Chop some chives, chervil and parsley with a few tarragon and mint leaves. Prepare the classic vinaigrette and add in the herbs.

Nutty Salad Dressing

Chop ½ cup (50g) walnuts, peanuts or hazelnuts, or a mixture of all three. Prepare a salad. Make a classic vinaigrette and add the chopped nuts at the last minute just before tossing the dressing into the salad and serving.

Herby Lemon-Lime Salad Dressing

Lemon and lime juice is another popular variation on the classic recipe. Here we combine it with herbs for a dressing to serve with a classic tomato, cucumber and onion salad.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh herbs (e.g. mint, parsley, chives, thyme, tarragon)
  • salt and pepper

Whisk together in a blender, or place all the ingredients in a screw top jar and shake vigorously to combine well before using.

Minty Salad Dressing

This light and refreshing salad dressing goes well with a cucumber salad, cold potato salad or tossed lightly over a fruit salad or apple and tuna salad.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper

Whisk together in a blender, or place all the ingredients in a screw top jar and shake vigorously to combine well before using. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavours to develop, then whisk or shake again before using.

Basic Creamy Salad Dressing

The addition of cream or yoghurt to a salad dressing puts it into a completely new dimension. Like the classic vinaigrette recipe you can use this one as the basis for endless variations.

The secret of a good salad is its dressing. Not only does a dressing add flavour and interest but it also marries its individual ingredients into a harmonious whole.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream, sour cream, whipped cream or yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon  fresh lemon juice or wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh herbs, minced (dill, parsley, thyme)
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Whisk all the ingredients, except the oil, together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavours to develop, then whisk or shake again before using.

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Video: Making Healthier Salad Dressings

healthy salad dressing videoFor healthier salad dressings substitute the vinegar with lemon juice. It adds loads of vitamin C, minerals and limonene – a phytochemical that shows promising anticancer activities. It also improves the flavour of the herbs; vinegar has an overpowering tendency.

Also substitute the seed oil with the best quality olive oil you can afford for better flavour and for healthy omega-9’s. Ot use fat-free yoghurt for a zero fat salad dressing.

And don’t forget to go really overboard on the fresh herbs, especially garlic and parsley, to give your immune system a really good boost.

Here’s Jamie Oliver’s Zero Fat Salad Dressing. He uses fat free yoghurt, hot English mustard and basil to make a really delicious and healthy salad dressing.

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