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Serving Soup

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
We are going to add soup to our menu. We currently make wonderful soups and then eat them ourselves at our restaurant. With our type of business which is a casual dine-in, take-out, and delivery we will be able to determine a period amount of sales after a few weeks of selling and make enough soup for that period of time and store in the walk-in. (We'll experiment with different aging to determine the longest we would want to store the soup.)

We're going to start out serving a minestrone. How do you all serve large quantities of soup without overcooking the pasta, veggies, and other goodies in the soup? (Separate ingredients and combine on order, steam table, microwave, heat-up on the burner to order?) Thanks all for your help.
post #2 of 12
In my experience, for the sake of speed of service, soups only last one service in the steamer. I guess if you have the time you can combine the ingredients separately, but that takes even more time.
post #3 of 12
Dear David-
I agree with the other response, quality soup is basically a one shot deal. You make it fresh and the serve it in one service period ( maybe two, if you can hold it for dinner after using it for lunch).
That being said, some soups do hold better than others in refrigeration. Broth soups hold the best ( French Onion being the best example), with thick creams having the biggest drop in quality upon re-heating.
You are on the right track with using sales data from previous days to estimate how much to make in the future.
Soups with a lot of course ingredients ( minestrone being the best example) can be served from the pot without having to separate out the garnish and "serve it in pieces" to make the ingredient ratios correct. Use a big enough ladle for one serving ( 10 ounce, 12 ounce or whatever is appropriate), make sure the soup has a good enough amount of broth and simply do what we ask all the servers to do before they serve soup - stir it up!
Soup is a wonderful product to offer, it is so satisfying ( as you have mentioned) and it is very profitable and gets you a good reputation quickly because everyone loves a good bowl of soup!
Good luck, and keep us posted.
Chef John
We must be strong in the broken places--Ernest Hemingway
We must be strong in the broken places--Ernest Hemingway
post #4 of 12
Some soups are more resilent than others. Some get better with a re-heat. Others can be re-built or modified into different soups.

But We can take a lesson from the asian cuisines:
Add the noodles just before service.

I call it a day after 2 reheats, and try to avoid noodles that break down fast, like egg noodles.
post #5 of 12
Whenever I make a soup that contains, pasta, noodles, or rice, I prepare the soup without it, in larger batches. Then when we are getting ready for service we add the pasta, noodles or rice into the soup that is for service, tossing any leftover soup at the end of service.
post #6 of 12
I have the best experience with pureed soups. They will hold really well in the fridge (depending up to about 4 days). But they are easiest to reheat for serivce. You can reheat one portion at a time or if you have a ticket with like 4 soups you can heat that all up too. It is stable enough to keep on your line in the cooler and just heat to serve. You may need to add more butter or cream to bring it together But I have had the best experince with pureed soups.
post #7 of 12
Ah...soup! The menu item that is always prepared, regardless of the various daily work loads. Can't make it too early and can't serve it too soon, but it must be there every day. It can be a daunting task to keep it new, fresh and exciting for sure. However, there are so many different types and flavours that it really can be managed. I prepare according to available time, ingredients on hand, and customer demand. In a rush I will prepare a puree. The ingredients can be cut large and less time is spent 'Checking up' on it until the end seasoning. With more time I will go with broth and fine dice. Chowders and stews I will make the previous day (adding cream on the reheat). Too many times have I been late for lunch service due to coddling my beloved chowder!
Rice, pasta, and barley are the devil. Very tasty, very thirsty. I add them to 4L batches of soup at a time. As a rule, in a dice soup, I will use 2/3 of my dice from the start and add the rest at the end, cooking until just before right. Soup for 150-200? Simmer your meat alone until just tender and remove. Do any thickening, season... add ingredients according to cooking time. when all is right, add the meat... your done. Lots of laughs can be had watching a chef grind his soup to a pulp by thickening last! :cry:

sorry all that took so long....I love my **** soup!
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your advice everyone.

An interesting note.
I was talking to two of my line cooks tonight while working the line with them. They both work at other restaurants during the day. They both said that the other restaurants that they work at make their soups the day before and then cool them. One said they use an ice stiring unit to cool it and the other said that they just let it slow cool directly in the walk-in. (Against LA County Health Code!) The next day after the flavors have set they heat it back up and hold it in a steam table all day. One throws out leftovers, the other continues to heat and cool the soup everyday until it is all sold. (yuck) They both said that the vegetables turn into a mush and are overcooked and that is how the soup is sold. I find it interesting that some other restaurants don't seem to care about their end product.

I ate some minestrone at a local chain restaurant last night. I wanted to see how they would serve it. It seemed that they make their soup the "asian" restaurant way where they add par boiled vegetables and noodles into a finished broth. Well, "Mi Piace", not mention any names, version of minestrone was not good. OK, it sucked and didn't taste like the ingredients belonged with each other. We're thinking of making a nice soup and refrigerating the finished product giving it a chance to "set". We'd then heat a portion at a time to order. It's how I would do it in my home kitchen and that always tastes great. Anyway, we're going to experiment with this method first. If it doesn't work, we'll consider others.

Thanks again for your input so far.
post #9 of 12
I used to live in North Hollywood. Where are you David?

The quick chill ice sticks are nice. They're available in at least two sizes. The only problem is people tend to lose the caps.

Another way to cool your soups is to put them in a shallow pan uncovered in the walkin. If you decide to hold your soups for service in the well, you can just take the bain and put it in an ice bath.

The shallow pan on the speedrack in the walkin is the best IMO. Top shelf please. :)
post #10 of 12
or overfill em...50+ bucks a pop gets expensive real quick.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Our restaurant is in Burbank. We serve Pizza, Salads, Sandwiches and Pasta. We like to think our food has high-end taste with pizza place prices. We are very particular about our ingredients and our cooking methods, etc. Our patrons are upscale foodies and families. My wife and I may use this as a jump off to an additional more upscale restaurant but may not. We are doing pretty OK here. We both have cooked all of our lives.

post #12 of 12
I really like shallow soup bowls. Minestrone is an especially beautiful soup when you can see every bit.
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