A classic bouquet garni, often called for in French roasts, soups, and stews, includes:
1 part leaf thyme
1 part whole peppercorns
4 parts finely chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
Fresh or dried herbs can be used, or a combination of both. Place herbs and seasonings in a cheesecloth square that is tied up with clean butcher's string. For especially easy removal, make the string extra long and tie one end to the pot's handle.
For a variation, try experimenting with rosemary, tarragon, summer or winter savory, and whole cloves.