It’s sweater weather and soup season is here, which is good news for restaurants, because soups, stews, and chilis are some of the most cost-effective menu options out there. Check out these tips to heat up sales and add bowls of comfort to your menu.

Check Out Your Inventory

Start with the ingredients you already have in your inventory and encourage your chefs to come up with ideas for soups that can be made with these ingredients. Soups offer the perfect opportunity for cross-utilization of ingredients and maximize menu variety by minimizing waste. Stems and trims can help bulk up a stew or chili, utilizing bits that might otherwise be thrown away.

Embrace Plant-Based

By eliminating animal protein from a soup or stew, you’re doing two things at once — first, creating menu options for guests who don’t eat meat, and second, creating a menu item that is extremely affordable both to you and the guest. Consider starting with a plant-based soup or stew, like a vegetarian tortilla stew, and then offer protein, like chicken, as an optional addition.

Plant-based options abound in this category, from butternut squash bisque to potato soup to pasta e fagioli, so get creative with it, and include all the fun, crunchy, creamy, zesty garnishes that make soup a restaurant-worthy meal.

Trends in a Bowl

Seasonal soups, stews, and chilis are a great place to try out trending ingredients to see how they land with your customers. This year, a few trendy ingredients that would work exceptionally well in soup format include mushrooms, ginger, turmeric, yuzu, and beans of all kinds. Try these out for a limited time to see how they work for your restaurant before adding them to the main menu.

Reel Them in with Seafood

According to pre-pandemic reports, 70% of seafood is consumed in restaurants, and in a recent survey, more than 30% of diners indicated they prefer shrimp most of all. Enter soup! Adding shrimp bisque or clam chowder to your menu can be a good way to create affordable seafood options. Guests gravitate toward seafood that’s familiar to them, which makes salmon (the most popular fish in America with consumers eating a total of 918 million pounds per year, or about 2.88 pounds per capita) a great choice, whether it’s spicy and brothy like a tom yum or creamy and decadent like lohikeitto, a creamy Nordic chowder.

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