“The ultimate comfort food” can offer members satisfying blends of flavor, color, texture and aroma.
Soup is the ultimate comfort food. Its rich depth of flavor entices the taste buds, and its warmth soothes the soul.
Soup is also a kitchen workhorse. It helps chefs move product and allows them to feature seasonal ingredients. And it can be made well in advance and held until service.
“Soups are a great way to recycle ingredients and stay on budget,” says Kevin James, Executive Chef of Ivy Hills Country Club, Cincinnati, Ohio. “But they shouldn’t be treated as leftovers. Many of our soups are elegant enough to stand on their own as a meal.”
Paula DaSilva, Executive Chef of 3030 Ocean, a dining venue at Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., agrees.
“When we’re coming up with soups we do a lot of wandering around the kitchen,” she says. “But that’s usually how our very best dishes come to be.”
Like sauces, soup-making is an elegant art and an understated way to show off one’s culinary expertise. Great soups are made patiently by letting them simmer and develop flavor.
“Creating successful soups takes passion and care,” says James. “You have to know how to carefully build character.”
Both broth-based and cream-based soups are popular with Ivy Hills CC’s 620 members. And while a la carte menus change seasonally, soups change far more frequently.
“Our ‘Soup of the Moment’ program underscores just how fresh everything is,” says James. “We do soups that are really traditional and rustic, like chicken noodle and wild mushroom, as well as more comforting soups, like broccoli cheddar and lobster bisque.”
Older members at Ivy Hills tend to prefer heartier cream-based soups, James notes, while younger, more health-conscious members favor vegetable and broth-based soups.
Either way, freshness is key.
At Harbor Beach, seasonal soups are especially popular, reports DaSilva, who prepares mostly modern American seafood at 3030 Ocean.
“Our butternut squash soup with maple crème fraîche and fried leeks is a huge hit with guests this time of year,” she says (see photo, above). “It has a rich flavor, with a fresh, sweet and creamy garnish.”
Two other popular one-bowl wonders are DaSilva’s tomato bisque, served with a mini-grilled cheese Panini, and corn chowder, which she’ll plate with a garnish that is super-flexible.
“We garnish it with a corn relish that can be added warm or cold,” she says. “It makes sense both ways.”
And that’s really the beauty of soup. It’s flexible and flavorful, all at once.