Seafood soup offerings are becoming more widespread, according to a recent report from the Foodservice Research Institute.
Surveying its MenuMine database of 1,490 chain, independent and non-commercial foodservice operators, the institute found that 21.7 percent of the operators currently have a seafood soup or chowder on their menus, up from 17.7 percent in 2005.
Casual chains particularly enjoy offering seafood soups, with 36.6 percent putting them on the menu, the report said. A survey of fine dining independents found that 34.6 percent of them offered seafood soup or chowder, and 31.2 percent of casual independents had them on the menu.
Also, more restaurants are calling their soups bisques and gumbos these days. Although 58.8 percent of menus with seafood soup call them “chowders,” that number has fallen from 61.4 percent in 2005. “Bisque,” by contrast, has jumped from 15.9 percent to 18.1 percent, and mentions of “gumbo” have gone from 11 percent to 12.7 percent.
“Soup” has become a less popular term, dropping from 10.8 percent of mentions to 9.3 percent.
Use of other words, like cioppino, stew and bouillabaisse, has gone from 0.9 percent to 1.1 percent.
Nearly half of seafood soups — 48.3 percent — are called either “clam chowder” or “New England clam chowder.” That’s down from 49.1 percent in 2005.
The next most popular item is lobster bisque, at 14.9 percent — up from 12.6 percent in 2005. That’s followed by seafood gumbo, which is at 12.7 percent, up from 11 percent in 2005.
Next, in order of frequency on menus, are seafood chowder, seafood soup, Manhattan clam chowder, crab meat soup, crab bisque, fish soup and lobster soup.
Menus’ use of more eclectic words such as crawfish, turtle, cioppino, salmon and conch have dropped from 4.7 percent of menu mentions in 2005 to 2.7 percent this year.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].