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Bunches of herbs

Make a bouquet garni

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Add a bunch of flavour to your winter soups and stews with PENNY WOODWARD'S tips for beautiful bouquet garni.

Winter is the perfect time to make warming and filling soups and stews. Soups are a great way to use up vegies that are not looking their best in the garden or have been in the fridge a bit too long. At the moment I have flourishing crops of perennial leeks and garlic sprouts. Garlic sprouts are cloves of garlic, grown until they are the size of spring onions and then harvested and eaten fresh. Perennial leeks grow in clumps with new slender leeks forming around the outside of the bigger leek. At present mine are all young and slender. I add a handful of chopped garlic and leek stems and leaves to every soup and most stews I make. I also add a bouquet garni of my favourite herbs.

A bouquet garni (French for garnished bouquet) is a small bunch of herbs, tied together with a long piece of string. You use it in soups, stews, sauces and stock to improve depth of flavour and add piquancy. Hang a bouquet garni into any dish that’s cooked for more than a few minutes, allowing time for the flavours of the herbs to be absorbed. Remove the bunch before serving. I always use my herbs fresh, but they can be dried in their bunches, and in fact can make simple gifts, with a card attached, for friends and family. Or the leaves can be crumbled and put into muslin bags.

In the picture above are some of my favourite combinations, so try some of these classics.

From left to right:

Sage, bay, parsley and orange thyme for pork

Cretan savoury, sage and marjoram for beans

Lemon verbena, parsley and lemon thyme for fish or chicken

Oregano, bay and sage for tomatoes

Bay, thyme, parsley and oregano for beef