Homemade soup is something everyone loves. And takeout-food businesses that specialise in soup seem to be popping up everywhere. If you're a business-minded person who excels at making soups, this might be the niche for you. Experiment with your own recipes and turn out soups that are tasty and health-conscious. Ask friends to contribute their own recipes. Once you have found a location, start small, watch your business grow, and eventually you'll be hiring people to work for you.
Decide if you will make soup in your own kitchen or lease space. Check with your health department to see if your cooking space will need inspection. Also check into zoning restrictions. Buy a commercial stove or purchase several crock pots. You will also need a large refrigerator to hold fresh ingredients and prepared soup in containers. Lay out your kitchen area to make preparation easier.
Develop your recipes, paying special attention to the herbs and other flavourings. Create one or a few stocks to use for several kinds of soups. For example, create a chicken stock for Italian soup, lentil soup and potato soup. Create a tomato base for vegetable soup, creamy tomato soup and chilli. Figure out how much stock you will need for 50 small cups or 25 bowls. Gauge this by experimenting and taking notes so you won't waste a lot of soup stock.
Visit farmers markets, health food stores and supermarkets to figure out where to buy your ingredients. Buy vegetables when they're in season and offer soups that showcase fresh produce. If you live in a northern climate, buy produce when it's in season, freeze it and use that for soups when it's cold.
Print price lists and serve lunch customers close to your kitchen. Sell to beauty shops, business offices and teachers at nearby schools. Saturate your own neighbourhood before branching out. Build repeat business. Do a cost sheet to figure out your exact overhead. Determine the cost of each serving and type of soup. When you can do this, you can manage profits more predictably as you grow.
Serve the soup in white plastic foam bowls or cups with tight lids. Make it easy for customers to reheat the soup in a workplace microwave or later at home. Package the soup in attractive bags with a napkin and spoon. How you present the product will affect how people feel about ordering from your business. Give excellent service each day and never get sloppy. A crisp bag and service with a smile goes a long way in any takeout business.
Hire cooks and assistants who enjoy food preparation. People who enjoy cooking for others will show up for work on time and create a good product.