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15 Ways to Jazz Up Your Soup this Winter

As lovely as soup can be, it often needs a little something to give it a little zippety-do-dah, as the Meemster would say– because who wants to eat a big old plain bowl of white, or green, or red —  as delicious as it might be?

It’s kinda like fashion. If soup is the little black dress of foods, then accessorizing is the key to giving soup its day on the culinary catwalk.

Adding something on top of soup makes it more interesting visually, and it’s an opportunity for contrast – in texture and flavor. Smooth soups need crunch. Heavy soups and stews need something to brighten them up a bit. Monochromatic soups need a splash of color.

Plus, it just makes them more grown up. More elegant.

I’d never dream of walking out of my Paris apartment without a scarf wrapped around my neck (the fashion police in my neighborhood would slap me silly, plus I’d freeze to death). Likewise, I’d never serve a naked soup.

So without further ado, here are 15 ways to dress up your soups this winter.

1. Cut corn tortillas into half-inch wide strips, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, and chili powder. Spread them out on a cookie sheet, and cook in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, flipping them over halfway to make sure they crisp on both sides

2. Add a dollop of sour cream, crème fraiche, or Greek yogurt.

3. Cut stale bread into cubes, drizzle with just a bit olive oil, sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper. Put them on a cookie sheet, cook in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

4. Shred your favorite cheese —  cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Comte. Use crumbles of feta, queso fresco, Roquefort. Shaved parmesan or pecorino is great, too.

5. Chop up some avocado.

6. Add a spoonful of pesto to the top of veggie soup (In Provence, this is known as Soupe au Pistou).

7. Brown some onions in a skillet with a bit of butter and some olive oil. The sweet caramelized flavor is fabulous.

8. Add leftover bits of shredded rotisserie chicken or brisket.

9. Bacon, bits of ham, and lardons are great on top of soups such as split pea, potato-leek, etc.

10. Make little parmesan “toasts” out of stale baguettes. Just slice thinly, toast in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes (flipping over halfway), then add shredded parmesan and let melt. (Could also do this with cheddar for a fun twist on the grilled cheese/tomato soup combo.)

11. To a carrot soup, add thinly sliced carrots; to a roasted tomato soup, add a few chopped roasted tomatoes; a broccoli soup, a few tiny florets, quickly blanched in salted boiling water.

12. Chop up fresh herbs – basil, dill, rosemary, thyme, etc.

13. Add a squeeze of lime or lemon.

14. Toast sliced almonds or pinons. Or toast and chop walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts.

15. Rip open a bag of Fritos!  They’re not just for chili, you know.

Have your own soup-accessorizing tips? Please share your secrets in the comments!