Consumers likely spend their sun-drenched summer days eating fresh berries and grilled meats. Yet, as shadows grow longer and temperatures dip colder and colder, they have a tendency to seek out foods that make them feel warm and cozy. In fact, according to Technomic’s 2018Soup and Salad report, 61% of consumers say they are more likely to eat soup when it’s cold outside.
Take advantage of peak soup season—one of the many pleasures of fall, next to football and wearing scarves—by building a soup program that’s on point. Start with incorporating high-quality foods currently in season and on-trend ingredients in prepared soups to pique shoppers’ interest.
Because consumers’ preferences, like the fall wind, can quickly change directions, here’s a peek at what’s trending in soup bowls this season.
1) Autumn vibes
One third of consumers—and almost half of consumers aged 18 to 34 years—admit that their food preferences tend to change depending on the season, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report. Retailers can expect consumers to reach for autumn flavors in comfort foods such as soup.
For instance, Organic Savory Harvest Bisque, which includes butternut squash and carrots pureed with classic fall spices such as ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, and then topped with diced apples, sweet potatoes and rosemary, is a delicious option to offer for those customers who are ready for some seasonal flavor. Along the same spiced squash taste is seasonal Spiced Pumpkin Bisque, the soup equivalent to that famed fall latte.
Technomic’s MenuMonitor finds that when it comes to trending ingredients for soups, sherry wine has grown 11.4% year-over-year on menus, while caramelized onions are also rising in popularity in soups—they’ve increased by 4.4% year-over-year.
2) Latin-inspired options
As young consumers drive demand, ethnic flavors gain more traction in taste preferences. One cuisine gaining in ranks is Latin-inspired fare with two ingredients currently trending in soups: lime, up almost 5%, and crema, up 4.4%, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.
To highlight this trend, try serving Chicken & Poblano Pepper Soup, a blend of diced chicken and spicy peppers accented with corn and black beans and finished with a hint of lime. There’s also the familiar Chicken Tortilla Soup, which features chicken, roasted corn, diced tomatoes, Monterey Jack cheese, lime and jalapeno peppers and thickened with tortilla chips. Finally, try Black Bean Adobo Soup, a simple yet hearty option that includes an on-trend dash of lime.
3) Asian flavors
In other ethnic-inspired cuisine, Asian flavors are up 5.6% year-over-year, with Vietnamese flavors up 5.1%. Ingredients typically found in Asian cuisines are also trending: Curry, ginger, coconut and lemongrass all increased by 3.6%, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.
Answer consumer cravings with Thai Style Chicken Soup, which features chicken, brown rice, peppers and scallions in a coconut curry broth with a hint of lemongrass. Pork Ramen Broth, another tasty Asian option, is an umami-rich broth with a savory pork flavor. Finally, ginger plays prominently in Chicken Ginseng Soup and Chicken Ramen Broth as well.
4) Soup variations
While most people might think of soup as a broth- or cream-based dish, it can be so much more. And, in fact, those two aren’t even the most preferred options. Rather, Technomic’s 2018 Soup and Salad report finds that 43% of consumers say stew is their first or second choice when ordering soup. Satisfy these shoppers by offering Vegetable Stew with Beef, which features pearl onions, potatoes and other select vegetables with beef simmered in a savory beef stock.
Chili is also more popular than broth and cream, coming in second place—42% of consumers say they’d choose that as their first or second choice. Options that retailers can offer for chili fans include Beef Chili with Beans, Three Bean Chili or Organic Vegetarian Chili.