Soup up your soup: eight garnishes

This article was originally published in March 2013

With just the right garnish, a simple soup becomes a nuanced dish awash in flavor. Local cookbook author Becky Selengut shares some of her favorites.

Caramelized onions

A sweet garnish that marries well with earthy soups, such as lentil, bean or parsnip.

Crispy sage leaves

Delicious with squash soups. Remove leaves from stems and fry in an inch of oil over high heat until they turn from light green to dark. Drain on a paper towel.

Stone-ground mustard

Stir a tiny bit with a good drizzle of olive oil (or sour cream, or crème fraîche) into lentil or sausage soups just before serving.

Herbal pesto

Add a dollop to any vegetable- or tomato-based soup. Any bright green herbal-nut mixture will work well, from traditional basil and pine nut to mint and pistachio.

Poached eggs

A sweet garnish that marries well with earthy soups, such as lentil, bean or parsnip.

Toasted dried ancho or pasilla chiles

Toast quickly in a pan, let cool, crush and sprinkle over tortilla soup along with the traditional (lime wedges, tortilla chips, cilantro and sliced avocado).

Cashew cream

A creamy and delicious nondairy garnish to balance spicy soups. Find whole cashews in our bulk section, then make it at home with this easy recipe.


Saute with a little preserved lemon, put a bit in a bowl and pour asparagus soup around it for a lovely presentation. Try dried morels, available in our grocery aisles, when fresh are not available.

Revised January 2021

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