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The Thanksgiving Menu: Turkey, Stuffing, Sweet Potatoes And Warm Blackberry Passion Fruit Soup?

Mintel has a new report out claiming that the hot new trend is soup made from fruit:

Fruits are warming soup offerings on fine dining menus. According to Mintel Menu Insights, a resource that tracks national restaurant trends, traditional vegetable soup flavors are feeling the heat from more experimental fruit combinations and flavor creations. Fruit was once reserved for chilled appetizers or refreshing dessert soups. Now, chefs are experimenting with them as main centerpieces for their hot soup creations.

“Chefs continue to be innovative in the fruits they use in dishes across the board,” said Maria Caranfa, registered dietitian and director of Mintel Menu Insights. “They are now showing that fruits and soups can blend to create great taste offerings. We expect to see chefs push the creations in this category as consumers show that they are willing to try new and interesting flavors of soup. Vegetables no longer hold exclusive power within this realm.”

According to a Mintel report, more than 91 percent of respondents claimed that some type of soup is served in their household. Due to the universal appeal of soup, chefs are continuing to introduce a variety of hot and cold fruit soup offerings. According to Mintel Menu Insights, the top fruit flavors used in soup include: apple, Sultana raisins, pomegranate, mandarin orange, winter melon, kafir lime, strawberry, and apricot.

In the hot soup category, chefs are taking advantage of seasonal and local ingredients. The Putney Inn (Putney, Vermont) serves Baked Five Apple Soup, featuring Grafton Village smoked cheddar with an apple fan. At the Abacus Restaurant (Dallas, Texas), they serve Warm Blackberry Passion Fruit Soup and Heirloom Apple Turnover, along with crème brulee ice cream. Upstream (Charlotte, North Carolina.) introduced Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, complete with duck confit, toasted walnuts and spiced crema.

The cold fruit soup category also is booming in innovation. Fruit soups are seen as offering a clean way to start or end a meal. Clio (Boston, Massachusetts.) presents Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup, including gulf shrimp, radishes, caviar and oxalis. For more variety in the chilled category, Le Bec Fin (Philadelphia, Philadelphia) serves their Chilled Soup Trio, featuring cherry, papaya, and strawberry soups. Janos Restaurant (Tucson, Arizona) has also served their signature San Xavier Co-Op Chilled Melon and Ginger Soup with Mango Sorbet and Mint Syrup, featuring chilled locally-harvested honeydew and cantaloupe, scented with sweet ginger and agave nectar with melting mango and mint syrup.

“Due to the versatility and popularity of many fruit flavors in other parts of restaurant menus, the emergence of fruit soup is a natural flavor extension,” said Caranfa. “Fruits are showcased in salsa, dipping sauces, and main entrees. Fruits provide a new way to add a healthy, sweet dimension to menus.”

As the Produce for Better Health Foundation prepares to roll out its More Matters program, reports such as this are important.

In the end, consumption increases because people find additional eating occasions to consume a product.

More Matters is a philosophy, but to implement it people need ways to do it. They need to think naturally about eating produce when they may not have previously thought of doing so.

Hopefully my headline is taken as a joke; we don’t want to displace the pumpkin or squash folks. But if 10% of the people who eat a chicken- or beef-based soup make a switch, you will have real consumption increases.

Exhortation helps, but it works best if we look out for specific eating occasions to promote.

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