Beets, Farro and Fig Relish

In celebration of National Soup Month, Camden, N.J.-based Campbell Soup Co.'s Swanson Broth experts, who stir up new ideas in the Campbell's Kitchen, are making 2008 predictions for the world of soup. While enjoying a bowl of soup is a wintertime staple, homemade soups are generating renewed interest in kitchens across America, due to a general increase in at-home cooking and fueled by a growing desire among consumers to cook with fresh ingredients. "The trends we are observing today in homemade soup are a microcosm of what is happening across the food industry," says Lucinda Ayers, vice president of Campbell's Kitchen. "The overall trends in flavors, ingredients and techniques play a role in soups too, and have an enormous impact on new soups that are being created both at home and in restaurant kitchens." By keeping a close watch on recent soup trends -- especially since more than 83 percent of homemade soups start with broth as a base -- "Swanson" broth has developed a short list of "emerging"and "embraced" trends in food. The "emerging" spectrum represents what is happening with haute cuisine, for the most part at restaurants with experimental chefs; while "embraced" flavors, ingredients and techniques have permeated the home kitchens of creative cooks and more mainstream restaurants. As in the fashion industry, trends in the food industry change quickly at the top, before they make their way more slowly, and often more enduringly, to more universal levels. "Emerging" flavor, ingredient and technique trends for 2008 include: Savory Watermelon; Rhubarb; Parsnips; Celery/Celery Root; Goji; Wild; Pork Belly; Grapefruit; Sunchoke; Coconut; Farro; Candied; Confit and Ceviche." Embraced trends include: Figs; Pomegranate; Beets; Cauliflower; Acai; Organic; Short ribs; Blood Orange; Artichoke; Mango, Whole grains; Caramelized; Coulis and Pickled. But even as at-home cooks are more willing than ever to experiment in the kitchen, the standard for homemade soup continues to be chicken noodle. So, while new flavors and ingredients are likely to rise and fall in popularity, Chicken Noodle Soup remains an American favorite in 2008 and beyond.