New toppings for your autumn soup

Have you tried sprinkling your soup with various toppings? If not, you are really missing out. With the right toppings, the simplest soup can become a hearty meal. And best of all, they don’t take long to prepare!

The secret is in the contrasts

Toppings should provide a contrast to the soup in both flavour and texture. For instance, chopped fresh herbs or a couple of drops of lemon juice are perfect for a creamy soup. Another example is stock-based soups, which are great served with crispy toppings like tortilla chips or croutons. You can also use creamy cheeses as toppings, such as feta, which I’ve used here in my version of beet soup.

Chilli toppings

Chile con carne and other tomato-based soups are in a league of their own when it comes to toppings. Toppings make an ordinary chilli fun to eat as well as adding to the flavour. Some of my favourite toppings are tortilla chips, pico de gallo (homemade tomato salsa), finely chopped scallions, slices or cubes of avocado, chopped radishes, grated cheese, finely chopped fresh jalapeños and coriander, sour cream or crème fraîche, Tabasco and/or lime juice. They all taste fantastic!

Pumpkin or butternut soup toppings

Try these toppings to make this soup a sure winner. I’ve come up with a selection of toppings so everyone can add their own favourites to their soup. These toppings work will with any creamy and mildly sweet soup. Why not try fruit? Sauté slices of pear or nectarine in butter for a sweet and fruity addition to calabash soup. Seeds and nuts (pumpkin seeds or pine nuts) also add a nice crunch to the soup. Roast them on a dry pan before serving. Crispy bacon is a classic topping for creamy soups. For variety, try chorizo or cured ham. Both add a nice salty flavour to the sweet soup. If you like a more filling topping, serve the soup with creamy plain Greek yoghurt with a sprinkle of cumin for a little twist.

Broth soup toppings

There is an endless variety of clear, broth soups, such as vegetable soup or lentil soup. These types of soup may not look particularly filling because of their clear broth, but add nourishing vegetables and some fish or meat and they make a delicious and hearty dinner. Soups made from homemade stock taste best, but there isn’t always enough time to make a proper soup stock when you have a hankering for soup. Luckily there are great alternatives to stock, like bouillon. I always keep vegetable and chicken bouillon cubes or powder in the house so I can quickly change my dinner plans and make, say, Asian noodle soup (one of my all-time favourites). That way, if I’ve used up all the homemade stock I usually keep in the freezer, I can still make a quick and flavourful soup with rice noodles and veggies. My tip for a quick chicken broth is to add a couple of chicken fillets and a vegetable or chicken bouillon cube to boiling water. Add a yellow onion and carrot as well and let it all simmer for approx. 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Shred the chicken and, presto!, you have chicken meat and broth for your soup.

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