Soup remains a popular fixture on menus in all sectors - from the workplace, pubs and cafés to hotels and restaurants.
"Its enduring popularity lies in the fact that it is filling and nutritious for consumers, as well as being a relatively inexpensive choice," says Paul Backman, of food service consultancy Horizons.
"For operators it is fairly cheap to produce, a good way of using up surplus ingredients and offers good margins, too. Horizons' Menurama research certainly shows that flavours are getting more adventurous, but that the traditional flavours such as tomato and chicken remain popular, too. In sandwich bars soup is the top-selling menu item, with an average eat-in selling price of £3.32."
Caterer and Hotelkeeper asked Christopher Basten (left), executive chef at London Marriott hotel County Hall and vice-chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs, to add value and appeal to five popular soup varieties.
He says: "If you serve a really good soup, people will talk about it because it's such a British staple. Adding a few bits and pieces shows the diner that you've taken time and trouble over it and increases the perceived value. It's also a good GP-maker and easy to incorporate the little extras into mise-en-place."
The quantities given are for garnishing 10 individual portions and the total cost is for garnish only. Depending on the operation, the soups could fetch between £6 and £9.25 selling price.
PARSNIP SOUP WITH LAVENDER HONEY AND PARSNIP CRISPS
Lavender honey, 20ml £0.20 Parsnip, one £0.20 Red apple, one £0.30 Total (for 10 portions) £0.70
Stir honey into the soup to enhance the sweetness and flavour of the parsnips. Peel the parsnip, strip with a speed peeler and deep fry until golden and crisp. Julienne the red apple, mix with the parsnip crisps and place in the centre.
TOMATO SOUP WITH PESTO CREME FRAICHE AND CRISPY CAPERS
Pesto, 20g £0.15 Double cream, 100ml £0.42 Liliput capers, 50g £0.65 Parmesan, 50g £0.44 Malt vinegar, 100ml £0.19 Brown sugar, 50g £0.12 Total (for 10 portions) £1.97
Bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil and reduce it to make a gastrique and stir in to enhance the soup's flavour. Grate Parmesan and place in a non-stick pan and bake until melted together, allow to cool into biscuit. Whip together the pesto and cream and add a quenelle to the soup. Deep fry the capers and sprinkle on top.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH ROAST TOMATO AND CHORIZO Cherry tomato on vine, 10 £1.12 Foccacia, 100g £0.35 Chorizo sausage, two £0.80 Total (for 10 portions) £2.27
Roast the cherry tomatoes. Slice and bake the foccacia until crisp. Bake the chorizo sausage and keep the oil. Dice the sausage and place on to the foccacia slice along with a tomato and lay across the top of soup bowl. Drizzle with the chorizo oil.
MUSHROOM SOUP WITH SPINACH AND RICOTTA TORTELLINI
Spinach cigar, 10 £0.09 Spinach and ricotta tortellini, 10 £3.17 Soft cheese, 100g £0.39 Lemon dressing, 20ml £0.06 Total (for 10 portions) £3.62
Poach the tortellini and float it in the soup. (Make a cigar by rolling cream cheese and spinach in Somoza pastry.) Float a quenelle of soft cheese, drizzle with lemon dressing and place cigar across the top.
LENTIL SOUP WITH RED ONION BHAJI AND CORIANDER CRESS
Red onion bhaji, 10 £1.00 Coriander cress, 10g £0.25 Total (for 10 portions) £1.25
Make a bhaji by rolling together gram flour, coriander seeds, red onion slices, beaten egg and cumin to form a ball. Fry the bhaji and float in the soup with coriander cress added on top.