This weekend I learned the coolest new trick! It’s finally soup weather and I spent the weekend making fabulous vegetable venison soup, infused with Oregano tea. This is an easy way to intensify the delicious flavors of the dried herbs flavoring soups, stews, and chilis.
Making oregano tea couldn’t be easier. Not only does the steeped oregano tea give your soups, stews, and chilis an incredible depth of flavor, there are apparently amazing health benefits from using oregano in your cooking. Seriously, google oregano tea health benefits and you’ll be amazed. It has powerful anti-oxident properties that some claim cure everything from acne to cancer to bad coughs to giardia. It’s also said to bring on labor when a pregnant woman has gone past her due date. I don’t know how much science is behind these claims but I have used oregano oil for years when we’re fighting bad colds. At any rate, I’ll write an entire post about oregano’s near-magic properties later. Today, I’m really interested in how it infused my soup with a deep, rich flavor.
This couldn’t be easier.
Start with a quart or pint jar. You’ll be steeping the oregano tea in a canning jar or some other container that can withstand heat. I made a little over two cups of oregano tea because I was stirring up nearly six gallons of homemade soup. This stuff is strong and goes a long way.
Measure out dried oregano into the jar. You’ll need 1/4 c. of dried oregano for every cup of water you plan to add to your jar. Like I said, I found that spread out over about 5.5 gallons of soup, 2 cups was plenty. If you’re making smaller quantities of soup, you can either save the unused “tea” in the fridge until you need it next or you can make less of it to start.
Pour boiling water over the dried oregano and let it steep for at least 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, strain the oregano leaves out by pour through a strainer lined with cheesecloth or even a plain white paper towel. (I would have used a coffee filter if I had had one that was the right shape.)
Cover the filtered oregano tea tightly. Either use immediately or refrigerate until you plan to use it. For the most intense flavor, add your oregano tea to soup or chili at the very end of the cooking process. Add the tea to whatever you’re cooking an hour or two before you’re done cooking for a mellower, subtler flavor mix.
The very best thing about this tip is that you can also do this with your other dried herbs. I’ve been playing around with rosemary tea (takes a little longer to steep), dried basil tea, and thyme tea. I want to try marjoram tea too but I didn’t have enough of it to actually make tea. I’m also considering experimenting with my herbs d’provence to see how that turns out.
The flavors really intensify and add such richness to whatever you pour your teas into that you’ll never want to shake some little dried leaves into your soup pot again!
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