While soup is delicious year-round, it’s arguably even more enjoyable when it’s chilly out. In fact, 61% of consumers say they are more likely to order soup when it’s cold outside, according to Technomic’s 2018 Soup and Saladreport. And it’s a popular item at restaurants—almost a third of consumers (29%) say they order soup sometimes at a restaurant, with 10% saying they do so most times.
But some customers won’t be satisfied with the standard options every time they want soup. For those diners, offering on-trend soups during winter can help boost interest. These four ingredient trends can help operators add seasonal winter soups to the menu.
1. Sherry and gruyere
According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, instances of sherry on soup menus grew 11.4% during winter 2017, while mentions of gruyere grew 6%. These are two key ingredients in French onion soup, so offering this option could be an area of opportunity. According to the Soup and Salad report, 40% of consumers say that broth-based soups are their first or second choice when ordering soups, with 23% saying broth-based is their top choice. French onion soup, made with a beef-broth base and flavored with rich, deeply caramelized onions and topped with a slice of toasted bread and the infamous broiled gruyere lid, is a perennially popular soup choice and a perfect fit for winter menus.
2. Butternut squash
Butternut squash grew 6% on menus last winter, and its warm, delicious flavor contributes to its popularity. This flavor makes it a versatile option for soup menus, too—it can be dressed up to be savory or sweet and is the perfect canvas for an array of toppings, from roasted pumpkin seeds and bacon bits to creme fraiche and pumpernickel croutons. To increase diner interest in this rich and tasty soup, consider offering a selection of unique or craveable toppings. According to the Soup and Salad report, 69% of consumers say they are more likely to buy soup topped with high-quality garnishes, and 38% say they’d be willing to pay more for them. Create a few combinations of toppings—black beans, tortilla strips and cheddar cheese; pumpkin seeds and diced apples; or croutons and creme fraiche—or let diners choose three toppings of their choice.
3. Asian-inspired flavors: ginger & lemongrass
MenuMonitor finds that ginger in soups grew 4.2% and lemongrass grew 3.7% last winter, indicating that Asian-inspired soups may be on the rise. From ramen to miso to pho and many others, Asian soups are great for adding to the winter menu. According to the Soup and Salad report, 34% of consumers say they are interested in trying more ethnic soups, too, so it’s a win-win for operators. These soups are great for the broth-loving crowd, too, as they tend to be broth-based.
Asian-style soups are also easily customizable, as bowls such as ramen and pho are generally accompanied by a variety of toppings that diners can choose to add (or omit).
4. Latin-influenced ingredients
Black beans, cilantro, garlic and avocado all grew between about 7% and 8% each last winter, according to MenuMonitor, and what better combination for these ingredients to create than chicken tortilla soup? It can be jazzed up with spicy ingredients such as chipotle pepper—perfect for the 30% of consumers who say they prefer to order soups with spicy flavors—or it can be made milder for those who are heat-averse.
One thing is true across the board: if winter soups are described as seasonal options, they may sell better overall. Technomic’s Soup and Salad report notes that 70% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase soup that’s described as seasonal, with 36% saying they’d pay more for those soups. For operators looking to boost sales of soup during winter months, using these trending ingredients and making sure customers know they’re seasonal offerings is a key strategy for success.
Seasonal ingredients can help you drive more soup sales.
70% of consumers are more likely to purchase soup described as seasonal and 36% say they’re willing to pay more for it.* That adds up to seasonal soups having the power to drive incremental volume for your operation.
As you are working through the fall and planning winter menus, keep in mind a few things. One, chili and baked potato soups spike in the winter.* Also, 45% of consumers find sweet potatoes appealing as a winter ingredient.*
Partner with Campbell’s Foodservice for carefully crafted Reserve Fully Loaded Baked Potato soup, Signature Hearty Beef Chili with Beans and Signature Creamy Sweet Potato with Tomatillos soups that can help drive seasonal sales.
* Technomic Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report, 2018
*NPD SupplyTrack, L12 Months
*Technomic Season’s Eatings: Winter 2018