Fresh Herbs

A fresh and fun recipe catalog by a girl who likes to play in the kitchen the "from scratch" way.


Filed under: BAY LEAF,Crockpot,Savory,Soups — |FreshHerbs| @ 6:33 pm

Once again we’ll be hosting the family Thanksgiving feast for both families. I really look forward to having everyone over and with two new additions, our own Ethan Robert Mercier and his 4-days older cousin James, there’s lots to be thankful for. When I say we’re hosting with a newborn in tow I get looks that indicate my friends think I’m crazy, but I’ve always approached this holiday as a shared potluck. I divvy up the necessities among all the families to make light work for everyone. This year is no exception, however this year mom will be in charge of the turkey and a few of the sides I typically handle…not bad for having had the last three years off I’d say.

But of course, I’m still thinking of ways to contribute to the feast…so I’m making a basic turkey stock that can be used for the meal…gravy most likely. And to make it super easy, I’ve thrown everything in the crockpot. A wise friend told me, when I was preggo and couldn’t handle the thought of raw meat, to buy a rotisserie chicken. Brilliant advice! I happened to opt for turkey and when we’d cleaned the breast I stashed the carcass in the freezer. The perfect, and essential start to my stock.

|Turkey Stock|
adapted from a few different recipes online

1 turkey carcass (I just had a breast carcass)
10 cups water (or enough to cover carcass)
1-2 carrots, large chop
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
5-7 allspice berries
8-10 peppercorns

Add all ingredients to crockpot and cook on low for 10 hours. Strain liquid and freeze or refrigerate for use. Note: there is no salt in this recipe, as I prefer to salt my recipes, not the ingredients. It’s easier to control the sodium that way.


|SLOW COOKER SOUP| 02/26/2012

Filed under: Crockpot,Soups — |FreshHerbs| @ 6:34 pm

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of my CrockPot. I’m also a fan of soup. So soup made in aforementioned wonder-appliance is nirvana. This tomato soup hits the spot. Super easy to make with pantry staples and the flavor is really great. I like this recipe because it is not the usual tomato-basil combo. While I have nothing against those flavors (this is a blog about using |freshherbs| after all) I’m not always down for that with soup. It kinda makes me feel like I’m eating watered-down pasta sauce. So this recipe was a winner in my book- the perfect partner for grilled cheese!

Vegetarian Crock Pot Tomato Soup
Modified from

Yield: 2 quarts (can easily adjust recipe up if your Crock Pot is big enough)

2 Tb unsalted butter
3 cans of 14.5 oz diced tomatoes (drain liquid and reserve)
1 onion, small dice
1 Tb brown sugar
1.5 Tb tomato paste
s+p to taste
2 Tb flour
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp dry sherry
1/4 tsp paprika (hot if you have it)

Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet (regular skillet will do, but I was dying to use my new cast iron). Add drained tomatoes, onion, sugar, tomato paste, and a pinch of s+p and cook until tomatoes have dried out a bit (10-15 minutes). Stir in flour and cook additional 2 mins. Add 1 cup of broth and remoisten your tomato mixture. Add entire skillet to crock pot.

Simmering pre-soup tomatoes in my new Lodge cast iron skillet.

Add the remaining broth, tomato liquid, and a bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. Clean the house or something. You’ll want to be home so you can smell this…remember, this is nirvana.

After five hours discard the bay leaf and puree with your immersion blender until smooth (you can do this right in the crock pot!). With your blender, stir in the yogurt, sherry, and paprika, additional s+p to taste. Cook on high for another 30 mins so the flavors combine.

Enjoy the Oscars!

|Cook often and eat well!|



Filed under: Crockpot,GARLIC,Savory,Soups,THYME — |FreshHerbs| @ 7:32 pm

I love French Onion Soup. Love it. Of course I love the melted cheesy crouton on top (who doesn’t?)…but I love the savory flavor and sweet, soft onions too. A great cold weather dish…that is even easier in the crock pot. I’ve been wanting to try a crock pot version for a long time and I seized the opportunity today. Carpe diem for the new year!

Most FOS recipes call for beef broth which won’t fly with hubs so I modified the beef broth in the original recipe with chicken broth and worcestershire sauce. Combined with the tang of the balsamic vinegar, I didn’t miss the flavor of the beef broth at all. The finished soup was really rich and caramel colored.

4 thin-sliced onions (your eyes will water!)

Crockpot French Onion Soup
Makes a huge crock, probably 8 servings.

4 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tb of butter
2 Tb balsamic vinegar
2 Tb brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 Tb flour
8 oz of beer (I used Stella Artois because that’s what I had)
64 ounces of low-sodium chicken broth (I used Better Than Bouillon and made 8 cups of broth)
1 Tb Worcestershire sauce
1 Tb dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper

Garnish: baguette crostini or croutons + grated cheese (parm, cheddar, or swiss)

Set your crock pot on high and add the butter to melt, then add garlic, brown sugar, butter, salt and balsamic and mix until combined. Add onions and stir to coat the onions with the balsamic mixture.  Cover and let cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are a bit caramely and brown on the edges.

Balsamic coated onion love.

While the onions are softening, make your broth (if not using cartons) and add the Worchestershire sauce to the broth and set aside until ready to add to your soup. When the onions have softened after an hour add in flour, stir thoroughly, and let sit for 5 minutes. Add in beer, broth mixture, thyme, and pepper, then you have two options:

Option #1: turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 6-8 hours.

Option #2: keep the heat on high, cover and cook for 4 hours.

You can totally drink the rest of that beer!

[I opted for #2 since I wanted to have this for dinner.]

To serve, turn your broiler on low and ladle your soup into oven-safe bowls. Float your crostini or croutons on top of your steaming soup and cover with sliced or grated cheese of your choice. Broil for a few minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.

And the end result is a really flavorful, delicious FOS that is good enough to make it, well, here. Even hubs cleaned his bowl (and that’s a huge compliment!). This soup will leave you French Onion Fabulous in less than 6 hours (including prep) so it’s a great option for a weekend meal.

[Cook often, and eat well!]


|C’MON IRENE!| 08/27/2011

Filed under: CILANTRO,PARSLEY,Picnic,ROSEMARY,SAGE,Savory,Soups,THYME — |FreshHerbs| @ 3:26 pm

Well, so far it’s a beautiful sunny day here…hard to believe that we’ve spent the majority of the afternoon preparing for Hurricane Irene. Hubs has pulled all of our deck furniture into the basement where we’ve piled it high with the things that we don’t want to get wet should the sump pump fail. {banish the thought} While he was busy preparing outside, I felt the need to contribute to the prep in the kitchen…

Just because you may not be able to use the oven (micro, toaster, or otherwise) doesn’t mean that the impending possibility of lost power means that you have to eat PB&J (though I’m not knocking a good PB&J). The trick is to make use of the power while you do have it! So while the chicken breasts were baking and the french baguette dough was in the bread machine, I tackled the mound of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers (thanks Lisa & Ken!) and other assorted vege and turned it into the perfect storm food- gazpacho! Think about it. You eat it cold, or even room temp, so if the power goes out there’s nothing to heat up. Serve it with some bread or crackers and you have the most delicious, and nutritious, easy meal. So here’s my version of a great summertime dish…

garden fresh tomatoes

Fresh from the garden tomatoes!

Hurricane Gazpacho

3 large fresh tomatoes, rough dice
1 roasted red pepper (I used jarred.)
1/2 large red onion, rough dice
1.5 Tb herbed vinegar (see below)
1 Tb evoo
2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 small jalepeno
1 large garden cucumber
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried cilantro (all I had!)
4 turns of my pepper mill

I put all of this together in one batch in my blender and found that blending it in stages helped me to fit it all in so the recipe is broken into parts. It honestly doesn’t matter which sections you blend together, as long as you start with the tomato base. I started with the tomatoes through the evoo and blended. Then I added the garlic, lime, jalepeno and cuke. Last I just stirred in the seasoning and put it in my fridge to chill for at least one hour (though my plan is to have it when the storm rolls in tomorrow so I’m not going to dig in for at least 24 hours).

Now for some notes…I used dried cilantro instead of fresh because I’ve used up all of my fresh. While I love the bright flavor of |fresh herbs| I always have a pantry stocked with a ready supply of dried herbs. For a soup like this, I’d probably opt for fresh if I had it, but dried always works in a pinch.

Mom's herbed vinegar with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme!

As for the vinegar I used, as I’ve posted before my mother is an herb enthusiast and she gave me this beautiful bottle of “Simon and Garfunkle” vinegar with |fresh herbs| floating in it…yup, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. I’ve honestly been at a loss for how to use it (other than salad dressing of course) so added it to this recipe as I was creating it and it really does add some flavor. If you didn’t have an herbed vinegar on hand I’d opt for red wine vinegar.

The end result, dear readers, is a super easy, super nutritious, and super delicious summer recipe that works for storms, picnics, lunch at your desk, or a day at the beach. Gazpacho is a traditional Spanish dish which typically includes raw vegetables and bread. As you can see, I’ve omitted the bread in the recipe in favor of serving the soup with bread. It’s packed with vitamins and has an acidic bite that’s very refreshing in the summer. It’s also a great way to use up the pile of cukes and toms that your garden is spewing forth right about now. So while you still have electricity, plug in that blender! Cook often and eat well!

Hurricane Gazpacho!