Guests are looking for more variety in their dining-out soup experience1. The good news is, it doesn’t take a lot of work for operators to satisfy their cravings—and maximize the potential of this highly profitable portion of their menus.
Creating new excitement with soup may be as simple as adding a unique garnish or mix-in to your current offerings. It’s a little touch that goes a long way in making soup a more memorable experience for guests.
You can take things a step further by offering new varieties on your menu to appeal to guests who may not normally order soup. And since soup is a low-cost menu item with the potential for a high profit margin, adding variety means added revenue. In fact, if you offer one additional soup a day, you could increase your annual profit by $10,324. Adding two soups a day could increase your revenue by $20,6492.
How do you decide which soups to menu? Offering at least one cream-based soup and one broth-based soup every day will provide guests with the variety they’re looking for. If you want to stir up additional interest, try creating seasonal menus with soups such as Asian New Year Meatball Soup around the holidays or Thanksgiving Pumpkin Bisque during the fall. Younger consumers are especially interested in trying new, exotic flavors. So offer varieties from all over the globe—Italian Style Wedding, Lentil & Roasted Garlic, Red Thai Style Curry Chicken with Rice and Chicken Tortilla all present an adventurous option.
Offering regional-specific soups can also help add appeal to your soup menu. Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup is a Philadelphia specialty made with tripe. And did you know the difference between New England clam chowder and Manhattan clam chowder is that New England chowder is made with potatoes and cream, while Manhattan chowder is made with a tomato base? Michigan bean soup has become so popular with the U.S. Senate that it’s also known as Senate bean soup. She-crab soup, from Charleston, South Carolina, is a creamy soup made with blue crab meat and crab roe. The exotic and interesting names of these soups will help draw in patrons and encourage them to try something new each time they visit.
Another easy way to add variety to a soup menu is through customizable options. Consider pairing soups with salads and sandwiches for a lunch option, or try offering different sizes to appeal to health-conscious consumers. You might even consider asking the guests themselves to get involved in the creation of your new menu items. Try rotating a few of their suggestions on the menu and positioning them as LTOs.
As consumers seek out more interesting soup varieties, it’s important for operators to take advantage of their soup menu potential. Offering a number of different soups can help appeal to guests who normally wouldn’t order soup in your restaurant—helping drive revenue for you. You can also add variety to your menu by asking your patrons exactly what they’d like to see. Adding global flavors to your menu is a great place to start building interest. And of course, don’t forget to promote signature soups on your menu to drive even more increased revenue and guest satisfaction.
1Technomic, Inc. The Left Side of the Menu: Soup & Salad Consumer Trend Report, 2012
2 Data provided by Mintel—a global consumer market research company with expertise in foodservice data. To learn more, visit www.mintel.com