Bread and Soup: Using Herbs in Winter

My favorite fast food during the hectic holidays? Bread and soup.

BBQ Rosemary

BBQ Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis 'Barbeque' has especially good flavor and aroma, great choice for cooking. photo PBH

Throw the soup or stew ingredients in the crockpot. When you come home from work or Christmas shopping, a hot, healthy meal can be mere minutes away. Now add biscuits, because hot fresh biscuits are fast and easy to make. In the time it would take to get drive-thru on the way home, you’ll be sitting down to a bowl of bliss that will warm your heart and soul.

Before the holidays, replace your old herbs. Saving dried herbs for special occasions is a bad idea. Begin using dried herbs as soon as you buy them so you will get a taste of the herb at its best. Then, you will be able to judge when herbs should be replaced because of age, light or heat exposure. Rub a little dried herb on to the palm of your hand and if can not smell or taste the flavor, empty the jar and replace it with new. If your jar of dried herbs tastes like paper dust or a dried front lawn, it’s time to replace the herbs.

Refresh spices. If your spices are not fragrant, don’t waste the time and ingredients of a recipe by using flavorless herbs and spices. Before baking season, buy a new box of baking powder and baking soda. Hot from the oven herb biscuits are the perfect accompaniment to winter stews and soups.

tomato soup and grilled cheese

Creamy tomato soup with mini grilled cheese toast. photo: PBH

My favorite cheese biscuit recipe comes from Simply Recipes: Cheese Biscuits recipe. I use 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped chives instead of scallions and sharp cheddar cheese. Best thing is, you can double the recipe and freeze the cut biscuits before baking. Later, retrieve the frozen dough and bake while the stew is simmering. They are so good and so easy, you will always want to keep a few in the freezer.

Though buying herbs in bulk is economical, it may not be the cook’s choice. Herbs tend to lose their flavor when exposed to air and light. Buy small amounts of herbs and refresh your supply regularly for the best flavor. The economy comes from using less of the dried herb when it is fresher and more flavorful.

Do not store your herbs above the stove. Heat will quickly deteriorate their flavor. Store dried herbs in a cool, dark, dry, air-tight container. If you keep them out on the counter, use a dark tinted glass container or a tin.

Guaranteed Herbal Magic

1/2 teaspoon of rosemary. I’m not kidding. Add rosemary to your favorite biscuit recipe. Or add a bit of rosemary to beef stew, vegetable soup, chicken and dumplings. It’s magic.

Everyone will love your cooking and you will become an herbal goddess of the kitchen. (Tiara not included.)

cheese soup

Make a double batch of soup, freeze half. A good quick meal will always be on hand.

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