Pureed, creamy soup is magical in and of itself: With the help of a blender and some broth or water, workaday vegetables or legumes—white beans, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, butternut squash—transform into a lush, hearty meal. But a simple puree can also function as a blank canvas upon which you can build visual, textural, and flavor appeal with garnishes. With just a quick sprinkling of crispy breadcrumbs or a swirl of flavored oil, your lunch can transform into something downright restaurant- (and Instagram-) worthy.
9 Tricks to Make Your Soup Feel Fancier
Ready to upgrade your soup? Here are 9 of our favorite simple garnishes.
Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter
The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.
For this elegant garnish, we sauté earthy cremini mushrooms with minced shallot until the mushrooms are well browned and flavorful. We use Madeira, which is slightly sweet, to deglaze the pan and also stir in a little fresh thyme for herbal notes. Get the Recipe >>
Candied Bacon Bits
This savory topper begins with crisped bacon. When brown sugar is added to the pan, it melts onto the bacon and creates a candy-like coating. A small amount of cider vinegar keeps the sweetness in check. Get the Recipe >>
Crisping chorizo in vegetable oil infuses the oil with the meat’s smokiness—and its striking ruddy hue. Get the Recipe >>
Buttery Rye Croutons
Instead of turning on the oven to make croutons, we gently fry them in a skillet. A combination of olive oil and butter gives the croutons great flavor without the risk of burning. Get the Recipe >>
Popped Whole Grains
When it comes to popping, corn gets all the attention. But don't overlook other whole grains. We’ve found that wheat berries, spelt, and kamut take on a hearty crunch and nutty flavor when they're popped, making them a tasty and wholesome addition to soups. Get the Recipe >>
Fried crispy shallots are one of our all-time favorite garnishes. Once you get used to having them on hand, they start to infiltrate not only your soups, but your sandwiches, salads and more. And don’t toss the oil they’re fried in: It’s infused with rich fried shallot flavor and has as many uses as the shallots themselves. Get the Recipe >>
For Brightness and Freshness
Punchy, lemony yogurt contributes rich citrusy notes, adding complexity to your bowl. What’s more, it comes together quickly: Simply whisk Greek yogurt with water, lemon zest, and lemon juice until smooth, then season with salt to taste. Get the Recipe >>
A celery rib, chopped fine, needs only 15 minutes to quick-pickle in a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle atop your bowl of soup for pops of pleasant tartness. Get the Recipe >>
This easy, vibrant herb oil comes together in the microwave: Simply nuke some capers until they crisp, strain them out, and stir chopped parsley and basil into the flavored oil. Drizzle over your soup for a dose of freshness. Get the Recipe >>
Start Free Trial
10,000+ foolproof recipes and why they work Taste Tests of supermarket ingredients Equipment Reviews save you money and time Videos including full episodes and clips Live Q&A with Test Kitchen experts
Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!
Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.
Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!
John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.