DIY Bouquet Garni
Add garden fresh herbs to your favorite soups and stews.
Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs, usually tied together with a cotton string, used to impart flavor to soups, stocks and stews. The herb bundle is removed before the dish is served. Although the exact origin of its invention is unknown, the term is French and translates to "garnished bouquet."
The use of "herb bundle" to flavor foods dates back to the Middle Ages. The term was coined in 1656 by French chef Pierre de Lune in his cookbook Le Nouveau Cuisinier in which he described a selection of fragrant herbs including chives, thyme, cloves, chervil and parsley wrapped in a slice of bacon. Various versions of the garni were tweaked by chefs throughout the world, adding local and seasonal ingredients to flavor their recipes.
There is not a specific recipe to create a bouquet garni. The traditional French version includes marjoram, parsley, bay leaves and thyme. Any combination of herbs and spices can go into a bouquet garni. The term is just a convenient name for a standard seasoning used to flavor stocks and soups. Every cook has his or her own favorite preference. Other herbs that are often used are rosemary, savory, sage, basil, celery leaves, chervil and tarragon.
How to Make a Bouquet Garni
There are two ways to make a bouquet garni. The first is to gather a few sprigs of herbs and tie the bundle with a piece of cotton twine. This is the traditional method for making a bouquet garni. The second is to wrap the herb sprigs in a piece of cheesecloth or sachet and secure the bundle with a piece of string. This method works well if you want to add spices to the bundle. Also, the cheesecloth/sachet method is often employed in soups and broths where you want to add the herbal flavor but not have any bits of herbs left in the soup. To make a quick sachet, cut a piece of cheesecloth or unbleached muslin into a square measuring about 7 inches across. Fill the square with herbs and pull up each corner of the cheesecloth. Tie the corners together with string.
To use bouquet garni, add the bundle in the pot when you add the other ingredients. You can let it float freely. When the ingredients are done cooking in the liquid, remove the bouquet garni by lifting it out with a slotted spoon or tongs.