Across Canada, patrons are enjoying bowls of soup and turning them into complete meals by adding a salad or bread. Savvy operators are exploring new soup opportunities and becoming more innovative with their soup menus.
By Jane Auster
Canadians are big soup lovers. According to Technomic Inc.’s 2014 Left Side of the Menu: Canadian Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report, five key reasons drive Canadians’ soup-love when they visit restaurants:
- Craving. 46% say they’re in the mood for soup.
- Healthy option. 33% see soup as a good-for-you choice.
- Great value. 29% consider soup a good eating investment.
- Interest in innovation. 26% want to try something new and different.
- Affordability. 25% say soup is affordable compared to other items.
“Everybody likes a bowl of soup,” says Richard Calladonato, Executive Chef with Campbell’s Foodservice Away from Home Division. “It doesn’t matter what culture you are from; it’s breaking bread and eating it with a bowl of soup. It puts everybody in a different state of mind.”
Campbell’s soup portfolio is organized into three categories that make it simple to find the right soups for any operation. From timeless favourites like Campbell’s® Classic soup to the authentic flavours of Campbell’s Signature soup to the indulgent, complex tastes of Campbell’s Verve® soup, the Campbell’s portfolio offers the perfect soup to satisfy any craving and attract more patron traffic.
New flavour innovation
“I use the term ‘bold, don’t burn me’ to describe the trend to bigger and bolder flavours and spices,” says Chef Richard. “Canadians really enjoy a lot of ethnic food.”
To help operators offer on-trend soups that meet Canadians’ flavour expectations, he recommends offering Campbell’s bolder favourites, like Campbell’s Verve Wicked Thai-Style soup with Chicken, as well as innovating by adding flavours to their basic soups.
“Operators are looking for what I call ‘speed scratch,” Chef Richard says. “They can buy basic and add to it. With our Campbell’s Signature Golden Autumn® Carrot soup, for instance, operators can add ginger and sriracha for a spicy twist or some vegetables and beef for heartiness, and they have a new dish. In the summertime, serve it cold and add crème fraiche. We think of soup as a platform that can help operators break out of the norm.”
Versatility and variety
With Campbell’s products, operators can buy one soup and use it to create many more varieties to drive traffic and boost sales.
“When I designed my restaurants before joining Campbell, I made sure every product I brought in could be used in different ways,” says Chef Richard.
Soup is so versatile it can be used to make sauce, be turned into entrées, and changed up to create bolder or heavier soups. Even adding a garnish can alter the soup and also fetch a higher price.
Take Campbell’s Signature New England Clam Chowder. “Did anyone ever try other toppings, like cilantro or sage and corn to make it almost like eating a corn chowder?” Chef Richard asks. “Garnishing is extremely important, and it drives profits. Instead of offering an 8 oz cup of soup, I can go with 6.5 oz of soup with garnishes, which I may already have in the house, and it becomes a meal in a bowl, a craveable item.”
Campbell’s Chef Richard’s top soup tips
- Keep your soup rotation simple. Include staples, add some bold flavours, and garnish them just as you would your entrées. “If I, as a Campbell chef, am making it for you, it takes the least amount of labour,” says Chef Richard. “It’s very simple to take our soup, put it in a bowl, and add two garnishes on top, so you can feature bold flavours and drive profitability.”
- Balance innovation with the standards. Patrons will always look for the comfort of a great clam chowder or tomato purée, but they’re also seeking new taste experiences.
- Take soup beyond the bowl. A single soup can be used in many different ways to create new dishes. “We’re seeing the resurgence of casseroles and one-pot dining in 2015,” notes Chef Richard. “We have taken a soup like a creamy chicken and wild rice, added three eggs to it and a rotisserie chicken, whipped it up, and put it together as a casserole, served in little dishes. There is a positive value impression to a dish along those lines.”