Take Vegetable Soups To The Next Level By Finishing With A Robust Garnish

Vegetable soups can serve as the perfect precursor to a meal, a comforting side dish, or a warming winter snack. But if your veggie soup errs on the lighter side, you may need to bulk it up a bit if you want it to step into the spotlight as a meal in and of itself. An easy way to elevate even the lightest soup? Finish it off with a hearty garnish.

While many of us may consider garnishes to be an addition that simply makes a dish look pretty, the extra ingredient(s) can take your food to the next level by adding plenty of extra flavor and texture. In the case of a light vegetable soup, a robust topper can make all the difference between an appetizer and a main course.

There are seemingly endless ways to creatively garnish your go-to soups, but if you don't know where to start, we recommend following a piece of advice we picked up from none other than Ina Garten. In an episode of her cooking show, "Barefoot Contessa," the star says she likes to finish off her creations with a garnish related to the flavors found inside the dish, so that whomever she's serving "knows exactly what to expect" from the rest of the plate. It's a simple yet clever rule to follow with all sorts of recipes, including soups. To start, that could mean topping your split pea soup with peas or your creamy pumpkin soup with roasted pumpkin seeds.

Simple ideas for garnishing soup

While Ina Garten's garnishing rule can oftentimes come in handy, you don't necessarily need to follow it every time you add the final touch to your soups. On the flip side, a garnish can be a source of complementary flavor and additional texture when you're attempting to upgrade the taste of your dish or make it a bit more filling.

To get your complementary garnish right, the secret lies in identifying exactly what your soup is missing and using your toppings to essentially fill that gap. If you're looking to add some crunch to your soup, for example, you can't go wrong with a sprinkling of crispy croutons. Want to increase the richness of a thinner broth? A dollop of sour cream or a sprinkling of grated cheese can yield delectable results. For the best of both worlds, you can even top your bowl with crunchy tortilla strips and creamy slices of avocado, a subtle pairing that never fails to complement a veggie soup that's rife with herbs and spices.

Of course, you can also achieve a robust flavor without weighing down your soup. To amplify the flavors of your dish, a sprinkling of flaky salt or herbs can make an impression, while a drizzle of olive oil or cream can help create a savory sensory experience. So the next time you whip up a comforting serving of veggie soup, don't forget to add a garnish — even the simplest addition can take it up a notch in style and substance.