At the 2019 NAFEM show, Elgin, Illinois-based Middleby Corp. spotlighted its induction warmer designed specifically for soups.

Middleby’s COOKTEK SinAqua™ Souper™ warmer eliminates the use of water without compromising food quality, according to the company. The highly stylized “soup well” holds a variety of food items and can also rethermalize food.

Other features include:

·          Plug-in and start holding – no water lines or drains required

·          Reheat and hold functions

·          Built-in pan compensation – compatible with 300 or 400 series soup tureens

·          Holding temperatures range from 140°F–200°F (60°C–93°C)

·          Audible and visual operational cues

·          Automatic stir notification and timer

·          Dry pan detection

·          Highly visible and durable capacitive touch user interface

·          Comes with a 7 qt. or 11 qt. soup tureen and lid

·          Available in freestanding or drop-in models

·          Freestanding Souper available with a two-year advanced replacement warranty – U.S. and Canada

·          Available in six colors



Panera line expands

New in the soup category for Blount Fine Foods, Fall River, Massachusetts, is a 32 oz version of its popular Panera Bread-branded Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup.

“At just 110 calories per serving, this fan favorite offers a delicious, refreshing and wholesome family meal made with tender chicken and a delicate combination of lemon, spices and orzo pasta,” according to Blount.

The addition of Lemon Chicken and Orzo expands the line of 32 oz Panera soups, which already includes Broccoli Cheddar, Autumn Squash, Baked Potato, Chicken Tortilla, and Creamy Tomato.

The 32 oz soups feature 3.5 servings per package and come in a see-through cup that looks great on-shelf and catches the eye of passing shoppers.

Panera Bread-brand Lemon Chicken and Orzo soup ships refrigerated in cases of six 32-ounce cups.

Also new at Blount, the company has opened a company store next door to its production facility.

What the company doesn’t sell to its regular customers is sold in the store, according to a story in the Herald News.

There are freezers on two walls at the store and a large chest freezer in the center selling clearance items.

Large bags of clam chowder, lobster bisque, vegetable soup, chili and chicken noodle are among the dozens of products sold at the company stores, according to the story.

Great deals are part of the store’s appeal. A bag of turkey chili or chicken tortilla soup sells for about $12. Bags have at least a half dozen servings, according to the story.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


A new take on ramen

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Pearson Foods Corp. hopes to shake up consumer prejudices about grocery store ramen with its new product.

Pearson’s line of Fresh Ramen grab ‘n go bowls are filled with nutritious, fresh-cut vegetables and fresh ramen noodles with a variety of seasonings. The refrigerated product began shipping to retail in September, says Chris Silliven, Pearson’s director of business development.

This is not, Silliven says, your typical high-sodium, dehydrated-noodle ramen product. Retailing for a suggested $3.99-4.99, the product ships in a 4-pack case and comes in five flavors: chicken, miso, sesame, pork and ginger.

The Fresh Ramen line comes in packaging as unique as its contents.

“To literally show consumers how much better Fresh Ramen is than center-of-store brands, we needed a different kind of packaging than the usual paperboard and opaque foam,” says Ruta Pearson, Pearson’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We wanted a stylish, crystal-clear ramen bowl to showcase our fresh ingredients and give customers confidence in the quality and freshness. At the same time, the bowl had to be microwaveable, heat resistant for fast and easy preparation, and recyclable. Overall, the packaging and design had to be eye-catching, unique and provide a variety of merchandizing options for our retail produce and deli customers.”

To meet those needs, Pearson partnered with Display Pack, a leading food packaging manufacturer, to design the custom ramen bowl and to recommend the material to be used.

Display Pack identified long-time partner Milliken & Company and its NX UltraClear polypropylene (PP) for the development of the bowl. It’s engineered to handle hot-fill applications and microwaving, which gives consumers the choice of adding very hot water to the ingredients or combining them with room-temperature water and then heating the mixture in the microwave.

The versatile Milliken material is also well suited for low-temperature use, which is important because Fresh Ramen products are kept refrigerated.


Emerging Soup Trends, according to Grande Custom Ingredients Group, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Consumers don’t necessarily consider soup to be a full meal; more people prefer to consume it as an appetizer or snack. In fact, 17% of respondents order soup as a snack, compared to just 11% in 2015.

The key to increasing soup sales is in creating enticing flavor profiles in addition to traditional pairings. Patrons are becoming more adventurous when it comes to trying new combinations. Asian-inspired dishes are gaining traction, perhaps in response to the surge in popularity of the Vietnamese soup, pho. Non-traditional meats are also finding their way into soups, including bison — a likely outgrowth of the bison burger trend.  

Creamy soups remain popular, especially various bisques. In addition to tomato bisque, roasted cauliflower, broccoli, mushroom, zucchini, pumpkin and just about any vegetable you can puree are gaining appeal. In addition to their hearty texture and flavors, they also provide visual appeal. Health-conscious consumers continue to watch fat and calories, however, so formulating these applications with improved nutrition can increase their appeal even further.

Garnishes on soups are also a consideration when trying to create stand-out flavors. Adding pine nuts, walnuts and various seeds provides visual appeal and a crunch factor to amp up the mouthfeel of various soups.