At the height of the pandemic, consumers turned to comfort food. And that demand has only continued to grow. Comfort foods with a twist and traditional comfort foods are being featured across appetizer, main, side, and dessert categories.
January is National Soup Month — the perfect time to promote soup as a comforting item, and the perfect addition to any meal. Additionally, check average increases by about $3.50 when soup is added to an order, according to research. Save labor, maximize your inventory, and drive demand during National Soup Month with these seasonal soup menu tips.
Twists on Tradition
The traditional tomato soup, French onion, and clam chowder are all standouts in the winter months. However, mixing it up with some unique modern takes on the classics can be all you need to persuade guests to spend a little more at your restaurant. Crème fraiche, homemade brioche croutons, and decadent lobster or curried shrimp can all bring new life to a traditional tomato soup.
Throw in some Creole spices, andouille sausage, crispy bacon, and charred green pepper for a Cajun version of the classic clam chowder that brings the heat and flavor but isn’t too far for soup traditionalists to venture.
The versatility of soup is great for chefs to stretch margins and experiment with their culinary creativity. Since the pairing possibilities are nearly endless, it allows you to play with different combinations for a more filling meal and get soups moving. Chili and baked potato is a superb pairing for winter months. Of course, the classic grilled cheese will go with just about any soup but consider Campbell’s® Broadway Basil and Tomato Bisque for a nostalgic comfort food pairing that diners won’t be able to resist this season. A crunchy and crispy BLT sammie would also work very well here.
Just as soup and sandwiches go hand in hand, soup and salads are an equally powerful combo. A salad with peppery arugula, walnuts, crumbled Gorgonzola, beets, sliced pears, and a light vinaigrette is the perfect accompaniment to a creamy soup or meaty stew. For something a little heartier, like sandwiches, consider a marinated steak sandwich with a silky lobster bisque for a spin on surf and turf. A panini with marinated, roasted, or grilled veggies, a zesty aioli, and avocado is another great option to get mouths watering. Of course, none of the above would be complete without some crusty bread or toasted crostinis for dipping, so make sure you don’t forget that!
Beyond center-of-the-plate options, soup works great as a base to add depth and extra flavor to a variety of dishes. Flex your culinary muscle by taking the soup out of the bowl and into your other kitchen creations — using soup as an ingredient to reduce other ingredient costs and prep time while adding extra flavor enhancements.
Consider Campbell’s® Roasted Red Pepper & Smoked Gouda Bisque to create a goat cheese and basil pesto quesadilla with a creamy roasted red pepper sauce for a fun appetizer or main entrée. Or use cream of mushroom soup for a full-bodied, robust mushroom risotto, or a cream of chicken soup for a hearty casserole or chicken dish that will keep customers cozy and increase check averages.
Soup of the Season
Seasonal soups also have the power to drive sales. According to a Technomic Consumer Report, 61% of consumers are more likely to order soup when it’s cold outside, and 65% of consumers say describing an item as seasonal enhances the flavor. Additionally, spicy ingredients are trending as consumers seek more flavor intensity. This is especially true with millennials. 37% prefer to order soups with spicy flavors, so turn up the heat with Thai chiles in a coconut curry ramen dish, a zesty chicken tortilla soup, or a hearty chili with varieties of peppers and spices.
Since National Soup Month falls in January, many diners will be seeking out healthier choices to appease their resolutions. 35% of consumers feel healthier after eating meals that include soup, so entice your guests to spend more with a few lighter, but equally flavorful options. A vegetable, broth-based soup with kale, small potatoes, roasted tomatoes, white beans, and Italian spices is a filling yet healthy choice that can appeal to healthy-seeking guests.
Lobster, bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, pickled veggies, and toasted nuts — topping possibilities are endless. Not only can they spur creativity in the kitchen as extra ingredients, toppings make an ordinary soup much more appealing to diners. Patrons perceive garnished soups as having a higher value, so it’s possible to charge as much as 25% more. Consider Campbell’s® Broccoli Cheddar soup as a vegetarian option and enhance it with freshly steamed chopped broccoli florets, chives, and sharp cheddar cheese crisps. For an updated winter favorite, top butternut squash with pepitas, a dollop of crème fraiche, and crumbles of goat cheese or crispy chickpeas.
Whether you opt for satisfying soup pairings, tempting twists on tradition, or seasonal favorites, these tips will set you up for success during National Soup Month.