Soup up your soup: eight garnishes

Taste March 2013

With just the right garnish, a simple soup becomes a nuanced dish awash in flavor. PCC Cooks instructor and “Good Fish” 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.

Related Reading

DIY egg substitutes

As with all baking detective work, a good way to deduce which egg substitute to use in a particular recipe is to first consider its role. Need a cake to rise or get light and fluffy? Add vinegar and baking soda, whose fizz contributes natural leavening. Want to mimic the richness of eggs? Silken tofu or plain yogurt will lend a wonderful creaminess.

Eating out with food allergies

So, just how careful do you need to be about your food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity at potlucks, restaurants and parties? Our nutrition educator shares tips and advice.