it’s time to add soup to your parties and events

Now that the weather outside is frightful (read: winter), but the fire is so delightful…. Ok ok, so our new house has a real wood-burning fireplace and I’m really excited about it! But since it IS winter, you’re starting to see soup everywhere.  But it’s not always the easiest thing to serve. Since I love soup (especially the really bad for you kinds with lots of cream – like broccoli cheddar or tomato bisque), I thought I would share some ideas and suggestions for how to incorporate this cold-weather treat into your parties and events.

If you are on pinterest and you follow anyone who posts catering or event photos, you have probably seen this guy (via United with Love):

catering soup ideas - tomato soup shooter with mini grilled cheese

The tomato soup shooter with a grilled cheese bite. I’m going to go ahead and declare this the soup trend of 2013. It’s all over the place and people love it. Who doesn’t love grilled cheese (unless you are lactose or gluten intolerant you have no excuse!)? This is one of those trends that is clever but with mass appeal. But it is on the verge of being overdone – to the point where I was choosing a menu for a holiday party and I almost didn’t select it as one of my passed hors d’oeuvres because it’s overdone, but then I realized that most of the party guests were not crazy like me and A) would actually consider something so delicious ‘overdone,’ B) would care that something is overdone anyway.

But stepping back a bit, let’s deconstruct this trend (I know, I’m insane). It starts with the soup shooter, which has been around for a while. A shooter (which is basically a fancy, tall shot glass) is an ideal way to serve soup as passed hors d’oeuvres because it’s a single serving and it’s easy to eat (you don’t need an additional spoon, you just drink it down). Most kinds of soups can be served this way (you would want to avoid anything particularly chunky though), but it’s often featured for creamy soups or bisques. Shooters are also used by caterers for smoothies or shakes, and can be hot or cold.

The tomato soup with grilled cheese bite took this to another level by pairing the soup with a mini bite of something that goes with it naturally. You can balance the grilled cheese bite on top, dip it in, put it on a skewer, serve it on the side, the possibilities are endless. You can achieve the same idea with any additional item paired with the soup, such as a tiny meat skewer or crostini like this (just beware that it could start to get difficult to eat):

catering soup ideas - soup with crostini

Or a more simple parmesan crisp (via Party Food):

catering soup idea - chilled soup with parmesan crisp

While the shooter gets a lot of attention, there is also the spoon. I don’t love the spoon as much for soup because you just get such a small amount (compared to the shooter) – I think the spoon is better for easy-to-fall-apart hors d’oeuvres. Via Bridal Guide:

catering soup idea - spoons

Gaining traction in the catering soup world is the mug. I’ve seen mini mugs and full size mugs – a mini mug is more like the shooter in portion size, whereas a larger size allows a larger portion (both still eliminate the need for a spoon).  This is a fun idea – crab cakes with New England crab chowder shots:

catering soup ideas - crab cake with mini mug of clam chowder

Or you could go really crazy and try a test tube – I think the test tube craze is over, but why not try and bring it back? (Via Mazel Moments):

catering soup ideas - test tubes

Of course, soups are not just for hors d’oeuvres. They can be incorporated to seated meals. True confession: I often eliminate the soup option in a buffet if I’m trying to save some money. Soups can be awkward with a buffet. It always seems to be placed in a bad spot on the line and guests would have to awkwardly balance it with the rest of their food, or decide if they want to make a second trip. But sometimes soup can be a great addition to a buffet! Or think about having a soup course instead of a salad with a plated meal. Everyone does salad – mix things up!

Or make soup the main attraction! One of my favorite catered lunches I did recently was a soup and salad bar. We ordered two different kinds of soups and two different kinds of salads with plenty of toppings. It was really fun and different.

Regardless of how you serve soup, always be careful of the temperature. Many (not all) soups are best when served warm, and keeping soup warm can be difficult. You also don’t want it to be too hot – a colleague recently had a soup shooter at an event that was scalding hot, which you obviously won’t realize until it’s already down your throat. While less painful, a tepid or cold soup (that’s meant to be warm) is just as disappointing.

You can incorporate soup into your entertaining at home as well. While most hostesses aren’t going to whip out their shot glass collection to serve sips of soup, I love the idea of having a bunch of coffee mugs near a crockpot of soup. That way guests can serve themselves (the crock pot will keep the soup warm) and using a mug means the guests can eat with one hand.

Now that you have a ton of ideas on how to incorporate soup into your event – who is going to bring me a batch of broccoli cheddar?

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