Sponsored by Blount Fine Foods
Warmer weather is right around the corner, which means it's time to refresh the menu with more seasonally appropriate soups and sides. But while spring and summer menu items may be lighter than the hearty fare of winter, they still should be flavorful and filling.
In other words, make certain you offer dishes that not only tempt the palate but are substantial as well. “Gee, when I leave this restaurant, I hope I’m hungry,” said no one ever. No customer should leave unsatisfied.
Diners looking to sit down to a meal after playing golf, swimming, biking or hiking have worked up an appetite. A cup of broth with a few sliced mushrooms and carrots holds little appeal. They are ready for a flavorful serving of hearty grains, legumes and vegetables.
A medley of new flavors and ingredients that can be satisfying as well as healthful is showing up on menus this year, ranging from plant-forward dishes to new twists on old favorites.
Spring and summer soups can be menued as specials — on table tents, menu boards, menu clip-ons or upsold by servers. They can be paired with a half sandwich, a salad or even a side. Ingredients in these fair-weather soups tell a great story — healthful, trendy, low-calorie and flavorful. Some are vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free. But reassure customers that while your offerings support their desire to eat well, they won’t leave hungry.
Bob Sewall, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Blount Fine Foods, reports that the company’s chefs have been busy creating new recipes for the spring and summer season. Blount offers freshly prepared soups and sides that make operators’ lives easier when it comes to offering their customers a portfolio of delicious, filling options.
Let’s hear it for legumes
How could diners looking for flavor and gratification resist Citrus Lentil Soup? Lentils, one of the trending legumes, have it all: protein, no saturated fats and a host of nutrients ranging from iron and B vitamins to calcium and potassium. But the best part is the versatility.
While lentils are a hearty substitute for meat protein in the winter, they can be lightened up in spring and summer with lemon or orange juice in the mix. Blount’s Citrus Lentil Soup is made with red lentils combined with vegetables flavored with turmeric and finished with a touch of zesty lemon.
The sweetness of sorghum
Sorghum — a grain that grows like corn and is not to be confused with sugar cane — is popping up in the foodservice universe. Sugar cane, among other things, produces molasses. Sorghum, a farmed crop, can be processed into flour or syrup for soups. It contains antioxidants and adds a healthy sweetness to a dish.
Blount’s Golden Sorghum and Vegetable Stew is made with a coconut-milk base. Vegetables are flavored with the sorghum syrup, turmeric and ginger. This dish is vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free.
Gochujang adds heat and flavor
Gochujang is a dark red, Korean chili paste made from chili peppers, sticky rice, fermented soybeans and salt. It adds a depth of flavor to a preparation in addition to spicy heat. The new Korean Inspired Gochujang Soup contains ABF (antibiotic free) white meat chicken, vegetables and a blend of grains. The paste adds the zing.
Spring and summer sides add pizzazz
Soups can be great for warm weather menuing, but don’t forget to include lighter-but-filling side dishes.
Cauliflower is everywhere — as a pizza crust or in place of mashed potatoes and as a flavor-filled side. Indian-inspired Riced Cauliflower offers a taste of Indian cuisine in which cauliflower is paired with creamy coconut milk and a tandoori spice mixture made from turmeric, paprika, fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin and coriander.
Another ethnic twist on side dishes is Mexican Street-Styled Corn. Trendy food trucks have been offering this dish as a topping for tacos. It’s also a great accompaniment for a salad or an entrée. The roasted corn with colorful peppers pops on the plate. This dish is spicy and flavorful.
Don’t forget the comfort favorites
Complement the new, trendy dishes with a few old favorites. How about Blount’s Cheeseburger Soup? It contains ground beef and potatoes in a creamy blend of American and cheddar cheeses. Bacon, tomatoes and scallions add flavor, color and crunch.
Blount’s Smoked Gouda Mac offers a tasty twist on this perennial favorite side dish. Shell pasta is mixed with a variety of cheeses — the primary one being Gouda, a Dutch cheese with hints of butterscotch and nuts.
Another favorite is Hatch Chile Mac. The Hatch chile pepper seasoning blend finishes elbow macaroni mixed with cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and roasted poblano peppers.
The convenience of prepared soups and sides is invaluable to today's labor-conscious operators. But the variety, flavor and ability of these spring and summer menu items to satisfy hungry appetites will ensure that customers will leave happy and return for more.