Great Winter Recipes: Preserve Herbs with Wreaths and Soups

Sized right for a single pot of stew, these easy-to-make soup wreaths are just the thing for holiday giving.

| December/January 2007

• Make Wintertime Chicken Soup.

For centuries, herbalists and gardeners have used wreaths to preserve the beauty of herbs and flowers long after the harvest has passed. In addition to their aesthetic value, herbal wreaths can add a delicious twist to your soups and stews this winter. Delightfully dainty, these wreaths add flavor and whimsy to your favorite soups.

I started making these tiny wreaths many years ago as little holiday thank-you gifts. I’d package the little circle of herbs in nice tissue paper, with a ribbon and recipe card attached, and present them to friends. I used this method to teach children about the uses of herbs in my garden, but learned that adults enjoy making them as much as children do.

The completed wreath is small, only about 5 inches in diameter. I’ve found this size to be perfect to season a pot of soup when the wreath is added near the end of cooking. A larger wreath would be too much seasoning for a regular stew pot.

Any of the seasoning herbs can be used. It’s best to use long-stemmed herbs, to make it easier and more fun to weave. I often construct the wreath for a specific kind of soup. For example, if I am going to attach a recipe for chicken soup, I would choose six or so from the following herbs for the wreath:

• Rosemary, thyme, celeriac leaves, garlic chives, garlic leaves, sweet marjoram, small lovage leaves, parsley, lavender, lemongrass, winter savory and lemon basil.

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