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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

50+ Soup Toppings to Transform a Plain Bowl of Soup

Yesterday, I made a large pot of split pea soup for our dinner. As I was putting everything together to serve, it just didn't look like very much. Instead of making something else to go with dinner, I decided to enhance the already-made soup with a bunch of toppings. Raiding my fridge, freezer and pantry turned up a whole lot of possibilities.

 Why top soup? Topping a bowl of soup is a last-minute way:

  • to make something special out of something simple
  • to add concentrated flavor bites
  • to add freshness to long-cooked soups
  • to boost nutrient value
  • to retain the texture of topping ingredients
  • to make a bowl of soup visually appealing
  • to add texture to "cream of" soups
  • to customize each serving according to individual taste

And so, I wrote out a list of soup topping possibilities.

For Crunch:
  • cracker, pretzel, croutons, tortilla or corn chips, crumbled potato chips, bread crumbs sautéed in butter or oil with or without added herbs and minced garlic -- aka pangrattato
  • toasted chopped nuts, toasted seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin), toasted coconut
For Added Protein:

  • diced hard-cooked egg, whole poached egg
  • bacon bits, sausage crumbles or dices, pepperoni strips, ham cubes, pan-toasted hot dog slices
  • shredded, diced, crumbled cheese
  • strips or shreds of cooked chicken, beef, or turkey
For Freshness:
  • minced fresh herbs
  • thin lemon slices, lemon zest
  • chopped fresh tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, celery, green onions (scallions), thinly sliced radishes
  • small dices of fresh apple or pear, tossed with lemon juice
For Creaminess:
  • sour cream, plain yogurt, unsweetened whipping cream (whipped or liquid), crème fraîche, cream cheese cubes
  • ripe avocado cubes, guacamole, seasoned oil or plain olive oil, herb butter, peanut butter
For Flavor Boosting:
  • salsa, chutney, pesto, olive tapenade, hot sauce, hoisin sauce, Sriracha, sesame oil
  • minced or sliced garlic fried in oil, chopped or sliced onions sautéed in butter/oil, sautéed mushroom slices
  • grated fresh ginger
For Added Texture
  • cooked cheese tortellini
  • cracklins (from rendering ham fat),
  • sliced olives
  • cooked whole pieces of vegetables that are also featured in a soup (such as asparagus tips topping  cream of asparagus soup)
  • thawed frozen peas (to top split pea soup)
  • stale bread cubes

While I topped individuals bowls for expediency last night, I also think a soup and toppings bar would be a fun way to do Soup Night.

What do you like to top your soup?


  1. Those are some excellent ideas! We mostly use sour cream, shredded cheese and some kind of tortilla or corn chip as a topping for taco soup. For tomato soup maybe a small dollop of sour cream, pea soup we use no topper but there are smoked sausage in the soup. Other soups we rarely top if it has noodles or veggies or meat in it. There may be a cracker or a slice of bread on the side (is that a topper?). In some sense it is a "topper" to add to the soup but just served on the side.

    1. Hi Alice,
      I've noticed in my own family that we all tend to crumble up our crackers into our bowls of soup. So, yes, I'd definitely say that's a topper! I love tortilla chips in soup, as they don't turn to much very easily.
      Wishing you a lovely day, Alice!

  2. Trust you to teach me something new. I had never heard of pangrattato before. That does sound delicious! My toppings are similar to Alice's. We use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream and that's good for cooling down spicy Mexican soups. I've used sunflower seeds and pepitas on pumpkin soup. Oyster crackers on tomato soup. For tortilla or white chicken chili, I like to use oven baked tortilla strips as a topping. Grated cheese .... dried herbs .... green onions ....

    I made anadama bread this morning (overnight method, easy peasy) for our soup today so, like Alice, we will have a side rather than a topper. It's generally my family's favorite part of the meal.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I've always called pangrattato "poor man's cheese". It's flavorful and almost cheese-like in taste and is also good on top of casseroles.
      I use plain yogurt on top of spicy soups, too, for the same reason -- to cool the heat from the spices.
      Do you have a favorite Anadama bread recipe? I made a sourdough version years ago, but haven't made it again since. I's like to try that bread again sometime, but with yeast.
      Have a great day, Kris!

    2. I've only tried the overnight rise version. Here's the recipe:

      Anadama Bread

      2 1/4 cups bread flour (I use all-purpose)
      1 cup cornmeal
      1/4 teaspoon (heaping) rapid rise yeast
      1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use 1 teaspoon)
      3 Tbsp Molasses
      1 1/2 cups very warm water

      Add dry ingredients together in a large ovenproof bowl. Combine molasses and water until they dissolve in another bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until combined (this is a damp dough). Cover and leave overnight (8-22 hours) in a warm environment such as an oven with the light left on. Use a rubber spatula or scraper to gently form the risen dough into a ball by scraping around the edges of the bowl. I use the scraper to "plop" the dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cut 5-6 slits into the top of the dough. Bake at 450* for 35-40 minutes. Cool. I like to pop the bread into a ziplock bag once it is cooled which helps it soften. Slice and eat!

      There you go. Super simple and a nice change of pace from the basic overnight rustic bread recipe.

    3. Thank you for this recipe, Kris! I will definitely be trying this out.

  3. Our toppings depend on what's on hand, but crackers, bread, and cheese are favorites. Pangrattato is a new word for me, also, but sounds delicious. I have some stale bread that would work well for that. Maybe I'll try it tomorrow when my work schedule is calmer.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Cheese and/or crackers are always favorite soup toppings in our house -- you just can't go wrong with those.
      I hope you enjoy the pangrattato. It's can be a way to add a lot of flavor and crispiness to those first bites of soup.
      Enjoy your day, Live and Learn!


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