Five crunchy toppings to turn a simple bowl of soup into a sensational supper

Think beyond bog-standard croutons

29 April 2020 - 09:37 By Toni Jaye Singer and Hilary Biller
Mixed mushroom soup 'pot pie'.
Mixed mushroom soup 'pot pie'.
Image: Toby Murphy

Whether it's homemade or decanted from a store-bought sachet, soup is happiness in a bowl on a cold night. But if you've been eating your soup 'unadorned', you've been missing out: a simple topping will add extra flavour and much-needed crunch to even the most basic broth.

Try these ideas for easy soup toppings:

1. PASTRY LIDS

Turn a bowl of soup into a 'pot pie' by topping it with a crisp pastry lid that you can break up and dunk into it. This idea works particularly well with mushroom, asparagus and French onion soups, as well as vegetable consommé.

How to do it:

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • Pour soup into ovenproof soup dishes.
  • Roll out some thawed, ready-made puff pastry and cut into discs about 2-3 cm larger than the diameter of the soup  bowls. Brush the edges of the pastry with water and cover each bowl with a pastry disc, pressing down the edges to seal. Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg and place the bowls on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Serve immediately.

2. VEGETABLE CRISPS 

Stash a packet of vegetable crisps in the pantry and you'll always have a crunchy topping on hand for vegetable soups like butternut, sweet potato, pumpkin and tomato.

Potato soup topped with a crumbling of crispy plain salted potato crisps.
Potato soup topped with a crumbling of crispy plain salted potato crisps.
Image: 123RF/serezniy

3. PITA CHIPS

These addictive pita chips make a moreish snack all on their own or when served with a dip. They also work well as a topping on wholesome homemade soups, minestrone and other vegetable soups like pea, tomato or butternut.

How to make them:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Slice a couple of pita breads into thin strips and place on a greased baking tray.
  • Drizzle with vegetable oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and dried herbs (thyme or rosemary works well) and bake for about 5 minutes until golden and crisp.
French onion soup topped with cheesy croutons.
French onion soup topped with cheesy croutons.
Image: Sunday Times Food Weekly

4. CHEESY CROUTONS 

No bowl of French onion soup would be complete without a couple of croutons smothered with freshly melted cheese. This classic topping would be equally delicious on farmhouse vegetable, lentil or goulash soups as well as smoked fish chowders.

How to make them:

  • Preheat the grill of your oven.
  • Slice a French loaf into slices about 2cm thick. Place them on a baking sheet and toast under the grill. Remove and set aside.
  • Pour hot soup into ovenproof soup dishes and place on a baking sheet.
  • Place a slice or two of toast on top of bowl of soup, then top with finely grated cheese (Gruyere or emmental work well).
  • Transfer to the oven and grill until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

5. CHEESY NACHOS

A Tex Mex twist on the cheesy croutons found atop French onion soup, these nachos are scrumptious on any thick spicy soup except Asian ones as the flavours tend to clash.

How to make them:

  • Preheat the grill of your oven.
  • Pour hot soup into ovenproof soup dishes and place on a baking sheet.
  • Top each bowl of soup with a small handful of corn chips and cover with finely grated cheese.
  • Transfer to the oven and grill until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.