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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 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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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.

Like this recipe? Please share!

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Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

bowl of spicy chicken noodle soupIn the 12th century the great physician and philosopher Maimonides prescribed herbal baths and chicken soup as remedies for the common cold.

More than 800 years later, the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that Maimonides was right. Researchers found that chicken soup was a mild antibiotic, decongestant and throat soother. Chinese healers to this day also use chicken soup to treat colds, though they do add some herbs, like ginseng, to their brew.

To make a healing chicken soup simply add chicken, onion, carrots, pepper and a pinch of salt to a pot with water. Bring to a boil. Add a chilli pepper and garlic. Boil slowly until the chicken is soft and tender. Skim off the fat and pour through a sieve. Add a few squirts of lemon juice and serve steaming hot. Sip slowly.

Here’s one of my favourite chicken noodle soup recipes. To boost its cold fighting properties I add loads of ginger, garlic and chilli pepper.

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup
  • 1,5 litres chicken stock
  • 2 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 5 ml salt
  • 2 ml pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 chilli pepper, chopped
  • 150 g mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 50 g raw egg noodles
  • 150 g cooked chicken, diced
  1. Bring stock to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, spring onions, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic and chilli pepper. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mushrooms and noodles. Add the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately.

Hierdie resep is ook beskikbaar in Afrikaans.

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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.

culinary herbs and spices