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Upgrading soups for summer with fresh toppings

Photograph: Shutterstock

Strolling through a farmer’s market on a weekend morning is an ideal pastime for many consumers—getting the first pick of fresh snap peas, scooping up the plumpest tomatoes and going to their favorite local meat-and-seafood vendor is a welcome alternative to hitting the grocery store. What’s more, springtime and summer offer a plethora of fresh herbs that enhance the natural flavors of fresh produce. So it stands to reason that one of the best and easiest ways to upgrade and update soups for spring and summer is by rotating in a selection of crisp produce, fresh herbs and even seafood or meats to work as garnishes and toppings.

According to Technomic’s 2018 Soup and Salad report, 69% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase soups that are topped with high quality garnishes, and 38% are willing to pay more for them. Check out these ways that unique toppings can help boost soup’s appeal.

Fresh herbs and produce

Technomic’s Soup & Salad report finds that 70% of consumers are more likely to purchase soup described as seasonal, so including seasonal ingredients is a no-brainer. Make sure to include seasonal ingredients like fresh veggies as well as herbs, and call out seasonal ingredients on menus and menu boards to help drive sales.

Springtime brings options like fresh herbs including mint, parsley, chives and more, and summertime produce like corn, tomatoes and more tastes like it’s right off the farm. For a delicious summery option, amp up Mexicali Tortilla Soup with fresh corn or beans and sprinkling of shredded cheese.

Summer seafood

Seafood is top of mind for summer, so it makes sense that diners might be gravitating towards seafood soups, too. And garnishes are great on those, too—plus, as an added bonus, they present the opportunity to upsell customers on fresh seafood as an add-on. For instance, offering fresh lobster as a topping for Lobster Bisque with Sherry increases protein and the indulgence factor of the soup, plus allows operators to charge a premium. Another option could be offering steamed or fried clams as a garnish for soups like corn and bacon chowder or Loaded Clam Chowder.

Call out high quality toppings

High quality, premium soup garnishes and toppings should be called out on the menu and on in-store signage. For instance, try offering Broadway Basil & Tomato Bisque  with premium toppings like grilled cheese croutons. According to Technomic’s Soup & Salad report, 67% of consumers are more likely to purchase soup that’s described as premium, and the same number said so about soup that contains local ingredients. For operators offering garnishes and toppings from local vendors or farms, this could be a big benefit.


Finally, toppings can appeal to the customization crowd—Technomic’s Soup & Salad report finds that 38% of consumers say it’s important that they can customize soup’s ingredients, so offering a toppings bar or a list of suggested pairings can be encouraging. Highlight different flavor combinations and make sure staff let customers know they can choose their own toppings.

Soup garnishes are a great way to update menu offerings for spring and summer. From adding fresh produce and herbs to topping off a seafood soup with more of the protein diners love, high quality and premium garnishes and toppings are the perfect antidote for the “same ol’, same ol’.”

This post is sponsored by Campbell's Foodservice