The childhood favorite for lunch is all grown up. Americans have graduated from tomato bisque to global soup flavors, and on many catering menus, the trend is to make soup the star of the show. For good reason. Soup’s versatility, unique flavor profiles, and fun serving options make it a natural item on catering menus. At Messina’s Catering and Events, we’ve seen a trend toward soup-centric menus for years now, particularly in the winter months when soup is as comforting to consume as they are beautiful to behold.
That’s especially important when you consider just how much people love soup. It’s a $16.1 billion global market, that grew 7.14 percent in 2019 alone. Then the pandemic hit, and soup and bread making became popular comfort-food staples at home.
Today’s soup lover expects more diversity including ingredients from global cuisines and recipes that meet dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free and vegetarian. Soups lend themselves well to all of these expectations.
Global Influences on an American Staple
Ten years ago, most Americans had never heard of Vietnamese Pho soup. Today, they argue on its exact pronunciation. (It’s actually pronounced Fah). Born from a rich, bone broth, Pho is flavored with ginger, star anise, coriander, black cardamom pods, and lime. Thin ramen noodles make up the base and fresh basil completes the dish. For catering events, Pho can be served in a traditional Asian soup bowl with chop sticks or Asian soup spoon. (Ambien)
On Mediterranean-influenced catering menus, full-service caterers like Messina’s often pair Avgolemono Chicken Soup from Greece with grilled Mediterranean vegetable displays and fresh seafood. Avgolemono is a creamy base with chicken, lemon juice, eggs, orzo and seasonal vegetable that’s been a staple on Greek menus for centuries.
We would be remiss without mentioning New Orleans’ famous Jambalaya, or gumbo as fun options that are always crowd-favorites.
Chilled Soups Area a Great Summer Option
Think beyond the gazpacho. Chilled soups are making appearances on catering menus more and more, and are crafted using everything from fresh melons to cucumbers. Even beet-based borschts are showing up on modern catering menus. (greenroom) Chilled soups are an easy grab-and-go addition to catered event fare are also easy to pack with nutrients and keep salt and sugar levels low.
Don’t Overlook the Serving Vessel
Great soup deserts a great presentation. Tureens instantly come to mind and can lend an air of cultural sophistication. But what about fresh pumpkin soup in a pumpkin shell? It’s whimsical and perfect for fall feasts. Bread bowls have been popular for years, with dense breads like sourdough being the most common choice. At Messina’s, we’ve been serving soups in shooters and spoons for decades as it gives guests a chance to sample a wide variety of soups. These soup “samplers” can be served as an amuse-bouche at a sit-down dinner or as a passed appetizer served with a garnish of crusty bread. Soups can also be served in pitchers and guests pour their own portion into a teacup or small bowl. Soups also lend themselves well to soup bars where guests assemble their own flavor creation using fresh herbs, croutons, and other garnishes.
Need Some Guidance?
Whatever way you choose to incorporate soup into your special event’s catering menu, we can provide you with lots of ideas for variety and presentation. Messina’s Catering and Events has been catering to the New Orleans community since 1961, when we started as a family restaurant. Since then we have grown to cater large festivals, corporate events, private residence events, weddings, crawfish boils, Mardi Gras coronations, balls and debutante events. We have provided catering services to some of the most prestigious events and people in the New Orleans area. That experience is important.