Food Trend Spotlight: Global Soups & Stews

January 2024 

Who doesn’t find comfort in a big bowl of warm soup or stew? Cozy, nourishing, and often nostalgic, soups and stews can be found in virtually any cuisine, and for good reason — they are incredibly versatile and easy on restaurant operations. Their appeal is on the rise, too, as world-stage soups and stews topped the list of trending dishes in the National Restaurant Association’s 2024 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. [1]  

Soups and stews have broad appeal because they are familiar, affordable, and seen as comforting by most consumers. When you offer soups or stews made with lentils, these attributes are particularly true:  

  • Common to cuisines including French, Greek, and Italian, soups and stews are the most familiar format through which consumers come to know and learn to love eating lentils. Lentil soup is in ubiquity according to Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle for Soup and is the top dish consumers want to see lentils used in. [3,4] 
  • Lentils lower production costs — they are versatile, remain shelf-stable when dry, and cost just a fraction of traditional animal-based proteins.  
  • With 12 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per half-cup serving, lentils provide satiety and nutrient-density, helping consumers feel fuller for longer. 

Trend reports for 2024 show that consumers want to try new regional ingredients and global flavors, but they prefer the experience to be comforting and those flavors to come in dishes and types of food that they already recognize and love. [2] 

You can use lentils to safely experiment with introducing new regional flavors in a familiar soup or stew dish. From an operations standpoint, whole lentils hold their consistency over time. As a whole food plant-based protein, lentils also add appeal for those seeking plant-based options that provide satiety and flavor. If you need to stretch one SKU farther, you can do so with lentils. They are an affordable ingredient that can be used across multiple soups or dishes — whole lentils can be the protein-rich hero in a vegetarian stew, pureed to add a velvety body to a chili, and once in the pantry, they can be cross-utilized into other dishes such as a wrap or power bowl. 

Lentils are great for soups because they are a flavor carrier. While a neutral ingredient on their own, when braised or simmered with aromatics, acids, broths, and spices, lentils soak up those flavors. With lentils, consumers get to experience adventurous new ingredients in a familiar format that satisfies. 

Explore inspired soup and stew recipes anchored in global flavors: 




[1] National Restaurant Association’s 2024 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast  
[2] Datassential Trendspotting 
[3] Datassential Menu Adoption Cycle for Soup 2023 
[4] Datassential custom report, June 2020