With the arrival of fall, consumers will start seeking out soups on menus, providing operators with a sales-boosting opportunity—especially when offering soup in combination with additional menu options.
According to Technomic’s 2016 Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, 53% of consumers say that it’s very important that soup they order at restaurants can be bundled with other food. With diners increasingly looking for healthier meal options, soup and salad combos can be a great profit driver in restaurants.
Offering innovative, craveable soups and salads can entice more diners to try soup and salad combinations. With these trending options for soup and salad pairings, soups have the potential to quickly become a hot seller.
1. Seasonal soups and LTOs
Limited-time offers and seasonal flavors are a great way to get diners interested in new menu items. In Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, 65% of consumers say they are more likely to buy seasonal foods and beverages, and nearly a third (29%) say they’d pay more for those items.
Soups and salads are stellar seasonal sellers—even during warm months. Autumn soups, such as butternut squash or pumpkin soup, pair well with hearty grain salads, and during summertime, chilled soups such as gazpacho or cold cucumber bisque are delicious alongside vegetable-forward salads that feature summer’s bounty—think fresh corn, snap peas, tomatoes, asparagus and fresh baby greens.
Additionally, in Technomic’sSoup & Salad Report, 36% of consumers 18-34 say they’d be interested in trying more cold soups, so menuing those items can drive profits from younger diners.
2. Ethnic eats
Trying new flavors is popular among diners, with 50% of consumers saying they’d be interested in trying new or unique types of soup and 37% saying they’d be interested in trying more ethnic soups, according to the Soup & Salad Report.
Ethnic choices, including Greek, Asian, and Southwest salads, are popular among diners looking for healthy options, while soups such as ramen, gumbo and matzo ball soup are growing in popularity. Consumers looking to try new ingredients may look to soup and salad when they want familiar items with a twist, making ethnic options a perfect choice.
3. Health-conscious combos
While healthfulness isn’t the No. 1 thing that creates value for consumers, it is indeed a traffic driver. Consumers are increasingly seeking healthy options from foodservice locations, so offering lower-calorie, low-carb, gluten-free and veggie-focused menu items can increase sales of soup and salad pairings.
For health-conscious diners, consider serving soup and salad options that have superfood ingredients in them, such as black beans, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, ginger and soy. Black bean soup topped with avocado pairs well with taco salads, for instance.
Offering healthier soup and salad combos can be better for the bottom line, too, since those items can be marketed as premium options. According to the Soup & Salad Report,42% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase, and are willing to pay more for, salads described as premium.
4. Twists on classics
Data shows that tomato soup is considered to be one of the most comforting and healthy soups, and in Technomic’s Soup & Salad Report, 41% of consumers say they would order tomato soup at a foodservice location if it was available.
Tomato soup provides a great base to show off new, interesting and differentiating ingredients like ancho chilis, locally sourced craft beer or Sriracha. Because tomato soup is both familiar and well-liked, it’s a great option for pairing with other foods. Best of all, tomato soup can be paired with just about any salad—the ever-popular Caesar, farro-and-winter-squash salad in the fall, a citrus-kale salad in the winter or even a classic spring mix.