When I started food styling, there were a few dishes I struggled to shoot. The soup was one of them. I would either mess up with the texture, color, or garnish. However, over time I learned the tricks to make them look beautiful without compromising on taste.
Here are a few tricks, which might not apply to all but works great with most soups.
Puree-based soups say, for example, pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, etc., once cooked, must be pureed with no or little water. You may adjust the texture later with a bit of cream, water, stock, etc. Use a good quality blender, or else pass the soup through a sieve to keep it lump-free. This step further ensures the soup is thick enough to hold the garnish and toppings.
When it comes to broth and ramen soups, stuff the bowl with the toppings and gently pour the broth from the sides. Packing the bowl with ingredients ensures nothing floats away, just kidding!! On a serious note, everything stays in place. You may reserve the lighter toppings like toasted sesame seeds, chili flakes, etc., for later.
A dull-colored soup can be accentuated or contrasted with bright toppings like caramelized bacon bits or mushroom slices, chili oil, chili flakes, bright green herbs, etc.
Even though I love my soup piping hot, it’s always best to bring it down to warm or room temperature when it comes to styling. Soft and delicate toppings like microgreens, sprouts, etc., tend to wilt.
I tend to use natural color enhancers like spices to make the soup look brighter and add to the taste. However, this tip depends a lot on the kind of soup and ingredients. I use turmeric for pumpkin or butternut squash soups, paprika for tomato-based soups, etc.
I hope this gives you an idea of how to go about styling soups. In the next part, I shall share a little more about the kind of accessories, choice of props, and garnish.