The Idyllic Comfort Food
On a cold fall, or winter day, when no amount of clothing layers seems to keep people warm, they tend to seek out hot, hearty foods and drinks. Tea, hot chocolate, stews, and soups are perfect examples of such items. A great bowl of soup is better than the richest dessert or juiciest protein in this case. Businesses can use soup’s appeal to their advantage by getting creative and offering at least a couple different kinds every day. By having base knowledge of the three different categories of soup, chefs can economize in the kitchen by ensuring the best use of available ingredients.
Hearty Soups incorporate ingredients in a base stock. The base can be any brown stock, white stock, vegetable stock, or even water. Oftentimes, starches such as barley, potato, rice, or lentils are added to thicken the base liquid and add texture to the soup. Diced vegetables and/or proteins are either added before serving, or cooked in the base liquid. Lentil soup, home-style chicken soup, and minestrone soup are just a few famous examples of hearty soups that are sure to please. Chicken soup preparation usually involves cooking chicken pieces and vegetable chunks in a season chickened broth. Most customers will get nostalgic as they eat it, so it holds the possibility of giving them an overall positive dining experience.
Blended soups are the best way for businesses to spin extra food into a finished product. Since this soup is hand blended, the main ingredients do not have to be cut uniformly. Usually, the ingredients are chosen based on the desired color of the final product. Orange soup will include carrots, butternut squash, and sweet potato. Though the soups can also include smaller amount of non-coloring ingredients, such as onion and celery, at least 2/3 of the main ingredients should be the color of the desired soup. Blended soups do not require a starch, as they will thicken when puréed. However, starches such as rice and potatoes can help round out the flavors. Spinach soup and carrot soup will have smoother flavors when such a starch is added. The key to the perfect blended soup is texture. Customers will be expecting something thinner than a puree, but thicker than water. Since the soup’s color will be uniform, customers will be more tempted to order it if it incorporates unique flavors and/or an interesting garnish. Apple-carrot soup and vichyssoise with a thyme and garlic breadstick are two great examples.
Velouté soups are most popular in classic French cuisine. Today, customers are less likely to recognize the term “velouté.” The term refers to a soup that consists of a base thickened by some classic thickening method: roux, cornstarch, egg yolks, or butter. The base is a strong-flavored stock made from the chef’s choice of main ingredients. Asparagus is the classic example of a velouté soup. Due to the ever-dwindling popularity of velouté soups, and the plethora of alternative soup options that exist, sticking to other types of soups may be in a business’ best interest. Playing with the soup menu is a great way to draw customers now, and provide a great profit margin for restaurants.