Reinventing Standard Soup Combos


Soup tops the list of autumn menu must-haves, providing a perfect blank canvas for highlighting seasonality, trending ingredients, and worldly flavors. To capitalize on consumers’ demand for modern variations on this classic comfort, your soup items must feature adventurous ingredients, flavors, and textures. And the innovation shouldn’t stop at the soup; soup pairings allow chefs to use their culinary artistry to compose intriguing options that go beyond the standard sidecar of a salad or sandwich, boosting appeal and profits. With strategic preparation and thoughtful execution, elevate your soup offerings, pair them with inventive items, and transform this menu mainstay into a thriving, profit-making category.

All About that Base

With health and clean ingredients top-of-mind for consumers, it’s essential to ensure broths, stocks, and bases are loaded with rich flavors and nutritional benefits. Scratch-made bases containing unctuous, collagen-rich meats, carcasses, vegetables, and aromatics are valuable assets to your menu. If time and labor constraints prevent you from preparing house-made broths or stocks, Maines is happy to provide ready-to-use varieties such as Custom Culinary® Broths and Liquid Stock Concentrates and Blount Clean Label Soups that help you save time and labor in the kitchen while delivering flavor-forward, clean ingredient soup offerings. Several varieties of these ready-made soups are also organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, creating opportunity to further capture customer interest by menuing your soup items with these influential terms.

Take Comfort in the Trends

Pho, a trending Vietnamese street food soup, is up 56% over the past four years (Datassential). For customers who are unfamiliar with this global soup, it’s critical to keep the integrity of pho’s original appeal by developing its traditional base (made of bones, aromatics, and fish sauce) before getting creative with signature mix-ins. If you prefer not to prepare pho from scratch, use Custom Culinary® Beef Pho Broth (#045533) to deliver the umami-rich, authentic beefy tastes your customers are looking for in a convenient format. Typically featuring thinly sliced beef, make your pho unique with other high-valued proteins like short rib, brisket, grass-fed beef, and free-range chicken that all demand premium price points and elevate pho’s deeply satisfying qualities. According to Technomic Inc., 20% of consumers say they may not order soup because it’s not filling enough to eat as a main meal. Make soup offerings heartier by adding bo vien, also known as Vietnamese meatballs, to pho or serving them as a global-inspired snack on the side. For another Vietnamese-inspired soup pairing, try preparing our Vietnamese Lemongrass & Butternut Squash Beef Stew and offer Mushroom Confit Cabbage Wraps as a vibrant, veg-forward accompaniment.

Infuse Individuality

According to Technomic Inc., 69% of customers are more willing to purchase soup with high-quality mix-ins and garnishes. Fortify soup with variations of trendy milks, such as coconut, almond, or oat, to give soup a boost in flavor, enhanced texture, and added functional attributes. Present seasonal, trendy elements, a plant-forward message, and worldly flavors by menuing Thai pumpkin and cashew milk soup complemented with a vegan pad Thai stuffed wrap. Plant-based purées, a hot veg-centric trend, can also add a smooth, dynamic element and help enhance the texture of your soups. Char or roast underutilized vegetables like celeriac and rutabaga to add a wholesome, flavorful profile and provide back-story interest with innovative techniques. Add more depth of flavor, texture, and intrigue to your soup items with garnishes like pickled vegetables, marinated eggs, seasoned and fried chickpeas, curried pumpkin seeds, pork rinds, balsamic drizzle, and black garlic oil.

The Perfect Pair

According to Technomic Inc., soup combos have been “trending down on menus due to the growth of more unique, alternative healthy options such as roasted cauliflower dishes and poke bowls.” There’s no need to reinvent the wheel to increase the appeal of your soup combos. Take the flavor profiles of favored dishes from popular categories that customers are seeking and translate them into a soup. Don’t limit your soup pairings to average salads or sandwiches; experiment with more sophisticated, creative items that are easy to execute like next-level wraps, satiating sides, ethnic creations, and craveable produce-forward pairings. Incorporate the following soup pairing ideas onto your menu to build your brand and attract more customers to this profitable category.

Organic, Gluten-Free Lentil & Chickpea Soup +

Vegan Chickpea Waldorf Salad Collard Wraps

Gluten-Free New England Clam Chowder +

Sardine Toast with Calabrian Chile Butter and Fennel

Maine Lobster Bisque +

Lemony Bay Scallop Salad on Oyster Biscuits

Southwest Corn Chowder + 

Mini Chorizo Pupusas with Red Cabbage Curtido

Roasted Shrimp Corn Bisque + 

Pimento Cheese & Herb-Stuffed Beignets

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