What Exactly Is A Bouquet Garni, And Is It Worth Your Time?

What exactly is a bouquet garni, and is it worth your time?

We'll be the first to admit it: Sometimes we don't exactly follow recipes. We're in favor of riffing on our favorites, making substitutions and sometimes even skipping an ingredient altogether if we're in a pinch. After all, we're only human.

One step, however, that is worth taking a little extra time and care for is the bouquet garni. Don't let the fancy French term fool you: a bouquet garni is nothing more than a bundle of herbs used to season stocks and soups.

You can use any array of herbs and spices you like, but the traditional combination consists of parsley, bay leaves and thyme. You'll also typically find whole peppercorns and possibly a crushed garlic clove in there.

The magic of the bundle is that instead of leaving loose herbs floating around when you're ready to serve your soup or use your stock for a sauce or whatever else, you have to fish out only one item.

If you have cheesecloth on hand, you can throw peppercorns in and wrap everything up neatly. If you're in a hurry or don't have cheesecloth, you can simply use butcher's twine to wrap herbs together. Just make sure to ditch the peppercorns.