Served as a side dish or a main course, a good bowl of soup warms the soul and delights taste buds. If you decide to serve soup for a dinner party, you may be wondering what side dishes will best complement your dish. From starchy sides to leafy greens, the right accompaniments will turn your soup into a hearty meal.
Breads are a classic accompaniment to soup. Choose a loaf that complements the flavours in your meal. A vegetable soup with plenty of roasted garlic calls for a crusty French baguette from an artisan bakery or your own oven. If you're serving a black bean soup with Mexican flavours, provide your dinner guests with plenty of corn and flour tortillas. A hearty chilli calls for cornbread, while a curried lentil soup begs to be eaten alongside Indian flat breads like nan and paratha. You can also serve breadsticks, toasted bread or croutons alongside your soup.
While crackers might not be appropriate to serve at a fancy dinner party, they make a great addition to a casual lunch or dinner that features soup. Plain oyster and saltine crackers can back up any kind of soup. Avoid crackers with a lot of different flavours and ingredients, like seeds and nuts, unless they're specifically designed to complement the soup you are serving. For example, cheese crackers bring out the flavours of tomato-based soups, but can easily overwhelm milder tasting soup dishes. Provide a plate of crackers for your lunch or dinner guests to crumble over or dip in their soup.
Make your soup dish a part of a balanced meal by serving it with a freshly tossed salad in addition to bread or crackers. Meaty soups without a lot of vegetables will especially benefit from the company of a green salad. Start with a bed of crisp romaine lettuce or spinach and add onions, carrots, mushrooms and tomatoes. Adjust the ingredients of your salad according to the kind of soup you plan to serve. If you are serving a heavy soup, like clam chowder, be sure to keep your salad light and simple. Serve fruit salads to balance the spice of a cool gazpacho soup for a summertime meal.
Starchy grains and vegetables add another dimension to your soup lunch or dinner. While some soups contain rice, noodles or potatoes right in the pot, soups that consist purely of meat and vegetables will benefit from a starchy side. Asian flavoured dishes like Thai curry and Korean soups call for a side of steamed rice that guests can stir into the soup before devouring it. Baked potatoes make a great accompaniment for chilli, stews and vegetable soup.
Soups don't have to be the main course at your lunch or dinner. Offer your diners a selection of sandwiches to eat alongside a cup of soup. Choose your sandwich fillings based on the kind of soup you plan to serve. If your soup is vegetarian, offer a sandwich featuring turkey, ham or bacon. If your soup features a lot of meat, balance the meal by feeding hummus and vegetable sandwiches to your guests. As a rule, avoid serving sweet sandwiches, like peanut butter and jelly, with soup.