Dish up soups that tell a producer story, inspire and excite… and work within your food cost budget.
Winter is well and truly here, which means one thing: soup is back on the menu (but really, should it have ever left?). From thick and hearty to deliciously delicate, there’s a soup to suit every mood, moment and price point.
It’s always refreshing to see a fresh spin on soup, but the dish’s rich history can also teach us a thing or two about the classics and the crowd-pleasers – and why we keep coming back for more.
The first-ever soup bowl – an ancient piece of scorched pottery discovered in Xianrendong Cave, in Jiangxi Province, China – is thought to date back to 20,000 BC. Makers would’ve dropped in hot rocks to heat the water, along with any other bones, proteins or foraged ingredients close at hand, to create a drinkable broth. Sounds delicious, right?
Fast forward a few thousand years, and soup was spreading throughout empires around the world. The Roman Empire had a hand in everything from southern Spain’s gazpacho to Minutal Apicianum – a traditional wedding soup filled with seafood or meat, fruit and spices. Seventh-century China marked the first bowl of wonton soup, while the Turks loaded their version of soup with vegetables.
Along with game-changing inventions like the printing press and the telescope, Renaissance Europe was also responsible for the soup spoon – how else were they meant to lift soup to their lips without ruining their ruffs?
By the 18th century, soup had cemented its status as a bonafide bowl of magic. Vendors in France would line the streets and sell healing soups known as ‘restoratifs’; one particularly entrepreneurial vendor began to sell soup, eggs and other restorative meals in what would later become known as a ‘restaurant’.
By the latter part of the century, fine dining restaurants became popular in Paris, with chefs taking the humble soup into new and exciting territory. No longer simply ‘soup’, the dish diversified and became known as bouillon or consommé, or a thicker bisque or velouté.
From 20,000 BC to today, soup has remained a literal melting pot of local flavour, creativity and culture. By utilising fresh, seasonal produce and experimenting with both classic and out-of-the-box ingredients, chefs can continue to create soups that inspire and excite even the most discerning diners and charge accordingly.
You can travel the globe through soup, whilst shining a light on Australian ingredients. When adding soups to your menu consider a southern American chicken and dumplings, Mexican tortilla soup or a hearty lasagne meatball soup, there’s no shortage of delicious recipes guaranteed to score rave reviews.
One of our favourites to get you started is a Chicken Tortilla Soup which uses shredded free-range chicken (or maybe some Sunday Roast from your carvery), chicken stock, onion, dried chillies, garlic, cumin, black beans, tomato paste, chipotle chillies, fresh or frozen corn, La Tortilla yellow corn tortillas and coriander to garnish. For more recipe inspiration, go to Straight to the Source