Recipe Cuttings

Joan Scharff-color

One of the most exciting aspects of working in a restaurant headquarters are “cuttings.” Cuttings happen in our corporate test kitchen and are held whenever we are trying new conceptual menu items or making a change to a current recipe.

For example, this fall our chicken stock vendor discontinued their product, therefore we needed to source a new product, batch each and every recipe and make sure the taste and quality were consistent with the original. That means for two straight months we had soup for lunch at least twice a week!

This process is fun because it often builds internal excitement for new products, and often gives our local Club Veg guests the chance to come into our office for tasting panel focus groups. It’s interesting to see how such a small difference in an ingredient or spice level can change the taste of a menu item.

Our criteria for any recipe change is to make it as good or better than the original. We have a high bar and let our guests decide if we’ve reached it.

After internal cuttings and guest tasting panels are done, we analyze the data and send the recipe to the restaurant for in-store testing.

Restaurant testing is usually done in three regions across the 15 states we are located in. The guests will be notified via signage (see above) that it is a test recipe and are asked on a comment card if the recipe should stay or go. Guests base their opinions on taste and appearance. If the vast majority of guests agree it’s as good or better than the original, we roll it out to the entire company!

Just a sneak peek, no opinions have been collected yet, but our most recent test is no-sugar-added gingerbread muffins. Keep an eye out for this future menu item if our guests like it.

61 thoughts on “Recipe Cuttings”

  1. Sweet Tomatoes is a new discovery for me so and I love the concept! As a superfoods chef, I love the freshness and quality. The variety is amazing and everything is from scratch as you can tell from the blog and signage in store. Love it and if you love them you’ll love as well. I am improving workplace wellness with foods they serve!

  2. WOW After being recommended to me I did a search on my Sat Nav last week whilst in Orlando, ….Fresh salad…. numorous choices of soup…. followed by sweets ,,,,,,, cake …..or fresh fruit. and all for around $11.. I will be back

  3. Suggestions:
    more vegetarian/vegan items; Tons of friends I know would come here more often if it fit their dietary needs.

    Healthier Indulgences: Why not dry part-skim mozzerella on the foccacia or soymilk in a creamy soup instead of heavy cream? It’d be nice to indulge without breaking the bank.

    Frozen Yogurt: While I am ardent lover of this treat, I must admit that Souplantation’s soft serve has fallen below par. Recently, I had a discussion with many restaurant-goers in which we all decided that the soft serve tasted more like frozen cool whip. We weren’t hoping for Golden Spoon or Yogurtland but merely something slightly better quality

    Lastly, RECIPES!
    I love many of souplantation’s dishes, but I’m only able to get them during certain months. Making recipes doesn’t mean that I would stop going to Souplantation (trust me; that would NEVER happen); I would just like to be able to make my favorites at home when they’re not offered. It wouldn’t be that hard to scale down the recipes for home cooks, but I would really love if Souplantation published more of their recipes. Maybe even try a cookbook?

    Keep up the good work with the blog! I’m really enjoying the newfound direct communication with loyal Souplantation lovers!

  4. I tried to find the recipe for your gingerbread muffin with no sugar added and cannot access it on this web site. Am I doing something wrong?
    Also I could not find the blog about the Hand Picked Farms? Do the farmers you buy from use pesticides?
    Thank you,
    Janice Fisher

  5. This is a great process . . . . .. its easy to give your opinion & every vote counts! thanks for letting us have a say in the selection of new products.

  6. I love the Creamy Rosemary Potato Soup also! Would love the recipe!
    Joan’s Broccoli Madness – yum!
    And the Multi-Grain bread is always good! Was wondering which grains you use though?


  7. Please put a restaurant in Riverside or Moreno Valley! We need more healthy choices in South Riverside!

  8. We live between Tampa and Orlando. We visit The

    sweet Tomatoes in the area. My wife and I would love to be able to go to one in Winter Haven or Lakeland, FL. Sweet Tomatoes is our favorite resturant.

  9. I would love to have the recipe for Wonton Chicken Happiness. Has it been posted anywhere that I can find?

  10. Hello, Joan. I love it that we can comment and you answer back. I agree with the comment about the soft serve ice cream. It could stand some improvement. I do like Souper Salads better and now for the gingerbread issue. Gingerbread is a great menu addition I enjoy but it would be even better with a sugar free one. Please post it when you perfect it.. OK, reading this blog is making me want to go to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch. Again, thanks for sharing your recipes. What a lovely thing to do and a great customer service. (I”ll try your sugar free gingerbread recipe if you’ll email it.)

  11. I would love to have the recipe for Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup and Creamy Lemon Pasta. Has it been posted anywhere that I can find?

  12. I love the Lemon Cream Hot Pasta with Capers dish and would like to see if I can get the recipe for it. I am sad that it is only offered in April. I wish it was offered as a regular item. It is that good!

  13. I really love the Wonton Chicken Happiness Salad and the blueberry muffins! Is there any way I could get recipes?!

  14. I love your wild mushroom soup. I think it is the best. Is it possible to get the recipe

  15. Pasta With Lemon Cream and Capers

    4 servings

    1 tablespoon table salt
    2 1/2 cups penne pasta, uncooked
    1 teaspoon canola oil

    2 tablespoons butter
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1 cup heavy cream
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon chicken base (see note)
    1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons capers

    For the pasta: In a pot, bring 6 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt to a full boil. Add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, until al dente. Immediately drain pasta and cool in cold water. Drain water completely. Coat pasta with canola oil to prevent sticking.

    For the Lemon Cream Sauce: In a stock pot, make a roux by melting the butter and stirring in the flour. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to prevent burning.

    To the stock pot, add the heavy cream, lemon juice, chicken base, lemon zest, kosher salt and black pepper. Whisk or blend to dissolve the roux. Heat to 200 degrees and simmer 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir often to prevent burning.

    Combine cooked penne with Lemon Cream Sauce and capers. Serve.

    Note: Chicken base is sold in jars near bouillon in many supermarkets.

    Per serving: 549 calories, 30 g fat, 10 g protein, 60 g carbohydrates, 97 mg cholesterol, 1,252 mg sodium, 1.4 g dietary fiber.

    (Adapted from Souplantation)

    To request a recipe, write to: Readers Ask, Food Section, The San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O. Box 120191, San Diego, CA 92112-0191, or send requests by e-mail to .

  16. My family LOVES Sweet Tomatoes (my kids request it every time we go out to eat!) I am excited to discover that you have recipes here for many of our favorite dishes. I can’t wait to try some out!

  17. Whenever we can, we eat at Sweet Tomato.
    Would love to have your “sugar free gingerbread recipe”.

    Thank you for your response.


  19. Could I please receive the recipes for your angel hair pasta with vegetables and vinaigrette dressing. Also your yummy lemon and chocolate lava cake recipes? Thx

  20. My family and I go to Sweet Tomatoes a lot. While visiting in September, I had my first introduction to Albondigas Locas. This soup was soooo YUMMY! Would it be possible to get this recipe?

  21. My favorite soups are the Black Bean Chili and Pinto Bean & Basil Barley. The only problem is…they don’t make them often enough!

    Any chance you will ever post those recipes so I can eat them more often? Like a previous comment… will NEVER keep me from going to Sweet Tomatoes just because I have a recipe from there. It’s one of our favorite restaurants!

  22. I would really, really love to have the recipe for Pinto Bean & Basil Barley soup as well. I’ve been going to Souplantation for over 25 years, but this is your most delicious soup yet and the first time I’ve ever asked for a recipe!

  23. I happen to adore Sweet Tomatoes and have for many years. I have not been able to go often any more however due to a distinct lack of gluten free options. My daughter and I are both on gluten free diets for Celiac’s Disease and even the smallest amount sends her into a migraine with other side effects. I would love to eat there more often again…..any chance you could add some gluten free items into your menu?

    1. The following foods we provide are gluten free at Souplantation / Sweet Tomatoes. We are testing new items daily to provide more gluten free items in the future.

      Salad bar fresh-cut produce
      with olive oil & vinegar dressing

      • Deep Kettle House Chili
      with cheese & sour cream

      • Baked potato with all the toppings

  24. We love to Sweet Tomatoes and we go to the one in Holllywood Florida all the time. We were there last night for dinner and had the gingerbread muffins.. Oh my gosh they are wonderful.. Where would I find the recipe for them. Also had the split pea and barley soup , Wonderful. It sure is nice to be able to go out and find so many healthy choices .

  25. Love your tomato/basil soup. Would love the recipe. We don’t have a soup plantation here in Va.
    My first time was over New Years in Los Angeles.

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  27. I would love, love, love to have your recipe for the abondigas locas soup. It’s my favorite soup in the world!! So sad that it’s not a basic soup you offer all the time. Can I please have the recipe? Thanks!

  28. I just love your abondigas locas soup. It’s my favorite soup. I wish that you would offer it all the time. Can I please have the recipe? Thanks!

  29. I love your new whole wheat buttermilk biscuit/muffins!! I am dying for the recipe. Is there anyway I can get it???? Please—my whole family loved them.

    Also I would be interested in receiving the recipe for your tuna tarragon.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. We do not have the recipe for the whole wheat biscuits at this time but you can always opt to purchase a bag of our biscuit mix at the cashier stand.

  30. Hello, Is it possible to get your recipe for the sugar free gingerbread muffins? We were in Phoenix from Dec. 25 – Jan. 4 and went to Sweet Tomatoes 4 times especially for the muffins. They were fantastic!

    Thank you! Gail VanEerden

  31. I visited the Sarasota Sweet Tomatoes last July, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about the AMAZING White Bean and Lime Chicken Chili I had. Unfortunately, I don’t live anywhere near a Sweet Tomatoes, so the only hope I have is to BEG for the recipe. To be honest…I’m shocked that no one else has posted the request yet as it was beyond delicious. Can anyone help? Many thanks!!

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  33. Is it possible to get the recipe for your Albondagas. Soup. I have been to souplantation for many
    Years,and enjoy all of your soups, however I would appreciate the recipe for for the Albondagas
    Soup. Thank you

  34. I love your Creamy Tomato Basil soup however it is only on the menu for such a limited time. Would it be possible for you to give out this recipe? I wouldn’t have any objections to you serving it more frequently either! Your restaurants are awesome and I hope you plan to expand into other states so I have someplace to look forward to when I travel.

    Thanks for all the great meals!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Hi there,
    2nd request..would love the recipe for abondigas soup. Was delighted to find it there yesterday. I want to Make a less spicy version for my 1 year old son. Thanks Tracy!

  36. Hi Tracy, I was at Soupplantation on Friday evening in Tempe, Arizona. My daughtet and I loved the Albondigas soup. I was wondering if you could share the recipe. Thank you michelle

  37. I know in the past you have posted your creamy turkey soup, is it possible to get albondigas loca recipe?

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