Remember how I wrote about my big soup letdown in December? We took some action and lit a fire under this thing. Soups are now showing momentum!
I took the lead on soup making since the semester ended for me (mid-December). I have been focusing on making 1-2 soups per week making creative use of our fridge/pantry/things on sale. All the soups are 100% improvised. The kitchen team has helpfully hoarded scraps for me, including a Cambro* full of veggie scraps to make veg stock. This has been such a fantastic exercise in reducing food waste and being resourceful! As an engineer, I do my best work with constrained problems. Give me a pile of carrot butts, a can of chickpeas and a smidge of tomato paste and I will make you a soup. And it will knock your socks off.
*Cambro: kitchen-speak for giant Tupperware
So far, we’ve made soups to fit all kinds of dietary restrictions. We’ve worked through a few versions of vegetarian Cheddar Broccoli (and continue to refine it!), an awesome vegan Carrot & Butternut Squash soup, and a vegan Bean & Mushroom soup that I just HAD to recreate at home because it was killer. We also have a lot of meaty scraps so I just ball out with the chicken stock and butter on those soups, like the Chorizo, Potato & Chickpea soup.
Since I last wrote about this (end of year), soups have been moving twice as fast as they were before! I’m not sure exactly which one of my ideas to push the soup did the trick – probably some combo of all things.
I had hypothesized that we needed more visibility on the menu with the soup. We installed this brown paper roll thing on the wall for me to write our specials on, instead of having a collection of signs on the counter. I noticed that customers are reading the soup on our menu! Also, when we post bagel updates on our Instagram story, you can see the brown paper menu behind it and read about our soup special. Awesome.
We also sent some emails about soup. They definitely drove awareness (people opened the email) but the soup coupon wasn’t a huge hit. Honestly, not an issue for me – I got people to try the soup without giving up any margin with a discount! I’m happy as a clam.
What’s next for soups?
I have to get the kitchen to replicate my improvisational approach to soup-making. They do a great job of improvising with the salads, and soup is the next level. I still have Monday mornings off from school this semester, though, so I am actually super OK with keeping one foot in the kitchen by running point on soup. Have I mentioned how much I love making soup?!
We’re going to test a soup & sandwich lunch special. Out of the transactions with soups, 59% also had a sandwich. DUH. I’m thinking of testing an always-on “buy a sando, get a soup for $3” lunch-time promotion. You won’t need a coupon or anything! With a blended average price below $6 per sandwich, this is actually going to be a killer deal for you compared with, say, a Panera lunch. (I just looked at their prices, and the average ½ sando + soup combo will run you $10.53.) This will hit in the next few weeks, once we lock down our approach to soup-making without Milena in the kitchen all the time.
We’re starting to wonder what else we can do with our soup kettle. Maybe oatmeal? Oatmeal is usually super boring but I gotta tell you, Puerto Rican-style oatmeal is the best comfort breakfast. Made with milk instead of water, runnier than porridge, and almost too-sweet. I feel like that’s going to hit the spot with this cold weather.
Tell me: Have you tried our soups? What do you think of my ideas to take soup to the next level?