Sponsored by Blount Fine Foods
As chefs, managers and menu planners continue to focus on the warmth of the summer sun for menu inspiration, remember that in a few weeks there will be hungry diners seeking comfort foods that are hearty, healthy and delicious. Cooler weather is rapidly approaching and, with it, the opportunity to menu flavorful soups and mac and cheese dishes that will entice and satisfy seasonal taste buds.
Soup is a category that offers endless variety. Any number of ingredients can be combined to create something new and exciting. The advent of global flavorings has increased the possibilities for new combinations.
“Soup eaters love variety,” says Bob Sewall, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Blount Fine Foods, which caters to the demand for soup diversity by constantly adding new flavor profiles to its product lineup.
Consider these new items for the cooler weather:
- Citrus Lentil. This soup appeals to many personal requirements: vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free and high fibre. It features red lentils, carrots, corn and onions prepared in a vegetable stock, and finished off with a splash of lemon.
- Golden Sorghum. Sorghum is the new rice. It holds up well in soup and its mild flavor does not overpower other ingredients. Blount’s version of this global favorite is prepared with white sorghum mixed with garden vegetables in a creamy, golden vegetable broth. The soup is flavored with ginger and turmeric.
- Cauliflower Cheddar. Introduced recently Cauliflower Cheddar is already gaining traction on menus, Sewall says. Cauliflower, in fact, is replacing potato as a more healthful option. It contains fewer calories, less fat, more protein and more fiber. This creamy soup contains cauliflower florets and white cheddar cheese, and is flavored with uncured bacon.
Sewall says the Blount test kitchen also is working on a recipe for that spicy New Orleans favorite, jambalaya, which is expected to be ready for fall menus.
Meaty mac and cheese
Mac and cheese is another perennial fall and winter stalwart. It has been a dependable menu favorite for years, but what’s new is the wide range of flavors available to address diners’ growing desire for variety.
For example, barbecue restaurants are starting to add meat to their mac and cheese selections, according to Sewall. Two of Blount’s mac and cheese dishes are easily tailored to a restaurant’s own distinctive style and flavors. White or yellow cheddar can serve as the base for any number of signature dishes. Add pork or beef, and you have a hearty comfort food.
A world of mac and cheese
Operators can add any number of ingredients to make their own signature mac and cheese menu specials. But Blount has made it easier to offer appealing flavor profiles to spice up the menu, Sewall says. The company's cook/chill process retains the quality and integrity of the products, and are easily heated.
Some prepared mac and cheese varieties include:
- Buffalo Mac and Cheese
- Hatch Chili Mac and Cheese
- Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
Selections also include mac and cheese flavored with both cured and uncured bacon and Pecorino Romano cheese, and a signature three-cheese blend made more distinctive with the addition of a touch of spice.
Menuing with pizzazz
Meanwhile, operators are finding that soups and mac and cheese can be menued in a variety of ways. As a combo a cup of soup and half a sandwich can provide customers with a light lunch and a variety of choices. Soup also can be showcased as a limited time offer or seasonal favorite.
In addition, positioning soups as a snack will appeal to those millennial and Gen Zer consumers who crave small meals during the day beyond the traditional dayparts.
Depending upon the recipe profile, soup can be menued as a healthful, hearty or flavorful selection, offering something for every taste and trend. Just share the details with your customers in menu inserts or table tents.
Mac and cheese also offers a number of menu possibilities for operators. It can be served as a side dish, an entrée with a salad, or on a combo plate with a protein like a burger. It can be featured as an afternoon pick-me-up snack too.
“We’re coming from all angles,” Sewall says. Blount has created a portfolio of offerings — both soup and mac and cheese — that can fit on any menu and appeal to a broad demographic.
But don’t wait until it's too late. Be prepared as summer turns to fall and guests begin requesting seasonal fare that can satisfy their hunger for heartier comfort foods. Soups and mac and cheese will certainly fill the bill.