Easy Soup Recipes to Warm Your Menu This Winter

It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Most humans are hard-wired to crave comfort foods in freezing weather. Of all the comfort foods, soups seem to be the best at warming our innards. Many folks think of soup as something that’s prepared on a stovetop. But CVap® ovens are also great for making soup. You can scale the process up to crank out gallons of soup to keep your sales hopping all day. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making soup from scratch or retherming pouches of premade soup – CVap’s got you covered.

Here are a few great easy soup recipes you can whip up in a CVap oven.

Kickin’ Chicken Noodle Soup

easy soup recipes

What soup is more comforting than chicken noodle soup on a frosty winter day? It’s one of those flavors that instantly takes you back to being a kid. It’s particularly good when you’re battling a cold. That’s not a superstition. Evidence has shown that chicken noodle soup can reduce cold symptoms. It’s chock-full of electrolytes, which help you stay hydrated.

Our chicken noodle soup take utilizes CVap ovens and our Collectramatic® Fryers. The result was a soup that combined many flavors and textures. It’s sure to warm the coldest heart. Check out the recipe here.

Vietnamese Pho Soup

easy soup recipes

This flavorful broth recipe has some good bones – literally. It calls for over eight pounds of beef, pork, and poultry bones, roasted in a CVap oven. This recipe is one you’ll need to plan, as it calls for simmering for at least 12 hours.

Pho (pronounced fah) is a Vietnamese staple. There are countless variations of this easy soup recipe. Our recipe is rich in different flavors and textures. You may want to consider offering this as part of a Tết celebration, Vietnam’s observance of the Lunar New Year.

Lobster and Fresh Corn Chowder

easy soup recipes

Here’s a tasty chowder that’s a little decadent. The chowder recipe includes lobster, scallops, veggies, and a brunoise of new potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots. The advantage to preparing this chowder in a CVap oven is that you can stage all the key ingredients in the CVap while the lobster shells enjoy a day-long simmer to create a stock. At serving time, the scallops just need a quick sear to finish. Then the impressive final dish is assembled – with a base of veggies, topped by lobster meat, a couple of scallops, and a generous ladle of the lobster stock. It’s a soup that’s as impressive to look at as it is to eat. It’s a perfect soup on a frigid day to make diners daydream of warm days near the ocean.

Beer Chili is Awesome

Chili is great any time of year. But it really hits the spot in the wintertime. You can spice it up with as much extra heat as you want to bring some warmth to a cold day.

A customer challenged us to see if it was possible to prepare beer chili using just a cook and hold oven. As this recipe shows, it’s not only possible but also awesome. So, bring on the beans! Bring on the meat! Chilly weather is chili weather!

Gumbo Ya Ya!

By the time mid-winter gets here, we’re sick of it. Good thing Mardi Gras comes around to add some color and fun to the never-ending greyness of late February. And we’ve got the perfect dish to inject a little Cajun flavor into your menu.

This spectacular gumbo has it all: veggies, sausage, chicken, and crawdads. Like many great soups, you’ll want to let it cook overnight to coax every bit of flavor. A little roux, a little rice, and you got yourself some great gumbo.

Chicken Stock – CVap Style

Behind every great easy soup recipe is an outstanding stock. In this post, Chef Sam walks us through how to use your CVap oven to create gallons of chicken stock. It’s the perfect base for multitudes of soups. The important thing about this stock is that it can easily be frozen to use at another time. And it makes the most of the chicken, with virtually nothing going to waste.

Retherming Soup in CVap

So far, we’ve elaborated on some great scratch recipes you can make in a CVap. But many excellent pre-prepared canned or bagged soups are available from your favorite foodservice distributor. Use a CVap oven to retherm your premade soups, and you can really scale up production. Our largest ovens can hold up to 28 hotel pans, allowing you to cook gallons of soup at once. CVap technology ensures that no matter what soup you’re retherming, it will never scorch or overcook. And CVap oven’s automatic hold cycle keeps soup hot and fresh throughout your meal service.

bagged-soup

From Soup to Nuts

These are just a few ideas for souping up your menu. Need more ideas or suggestions for adapting an existing recipe to CVap? Just fill out our contact form. Our culinary experts will be happy to help! There’s no need to limit questions to soup. We can help with just about anything!

How Can CVap® Expand Your Menu?

Are you looking to change or expand your operation’s menu? If you have CVap technology in your kitchen, you already have a head start on your goal.

Ideally, expanding your menu won’t involve investing in new equipment. That’s why having CVap in your kitchen is such a game-changer. CVap ovens offer the versatility to accomplish a wide range of cooking processes, such as steaming, baking, holding, sous vide, staging, and more. You can find a rundown of CVap’s capabilities here.

Proteins

Proteins are typically the center of the plate for most entrees. Try some of these ideas to expand your menu.

Sous Vide Chicken

Stage chicken breasts sous vide in a CVap oven. When an order comes in, toss the chicken on a grill for a quick hit on both sides. The order is out in under four minutes. This saves so much time, compared to cooking raw. Serve it as a grilled chicken entree, a chicken sandwich, or in salads…the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Prime Rib

Who doesn’t love prime rib? An overnight cook yields deliciously perfect prime rib. CVap ovens achieve incredible yields. Their low, slow cooking method breaks down connective tissue within the meat. That ultimately means more servings per roast. Got leftovers? Shave it for epic Philly cheesesteaks.

Eggs

Do you serve breakfast? Eggs are the ultimate protein. You can cook up a mess of righteous poached eggs in your CVap oven. A CVap oven can cook dozens and dozens of poached eggs in a single load. You can easily keep a breakfast buffet fully stocked. Poached eggs are the perfect center for great eggs benedict.

Wings

Chicken wings are crazy popular. Add wings to your menu to pop up sales. Stage the wings in the CVap, then pop them in a fryer or onto a grill when ordered. The wings will fly out of the kitchen (pun intended) in a fraction of the time it takes to cook from raw.

Baking

Proofing

CVap ovens and cabinets are great proofers—proof focaccia, brioche…practically any dough. CVap is the perfect proofer. These unique cabinets can maintain a warm, slightly moist environment that helps yeast get down to the business of rising.

Cake

Expand your dessert offerings with goodies like crème brulé, flourless chocolate cake, or carrot cake. These (and lots more) bake perfectly in a CVap oven.

Something Different

Expand Your Menu

Flex your CVap oven for different purposes around the clock. Use as an oven to cook overnight, then use for holding takeaway food during the day.

Do you serve a lot of rice? You can hold rice and popular partner dishes like chicken teriyaki in the same CVap. It’s already set at the perfect holding temperature for both. One of our big chain customers uses this with excellent results.

Expand Your Menu

Is your school using a CVap Retherm Oven for school pizza? Try retherming soups, cooking vegetables, or baking tater tots. You’ll love the results.

Expand Your Menu

Dehydrate! If you’re familiar with CVap technology, you probably think it is humidified. But you can turn off the vapor heat and use air heat alone to dehydrate fruits, veggies, herbs, and even jerky. It’s a great way to introduce unusual products to your menu.

Add some healthier options to your menu by steaming in your CVap oven. Unlike typical commercial steamers, CVap ovens can low-temp steam at 200°F Vapor and 200°F Air. It’s 100 percent humidity at a gentler temperature. It’s perfect for veggies and more delicate foods like finfish and shellfish.

Versatility rules the day with CVap ovens. You can cook just about anything in them. Do you have an idea we haven’t mentioned here? Reach out to us. Our corporate chef and culinary team can advise you on the best way to accomplish it.

Holiday Recipes: CVap® Oven Recipes to Snazz Up Your Holiday Restaurant Menu

Holiday Recipes

The holidays can be a make-or-break time for restaurants. Take advantage of your CVap oven to expand your menu. Your guests are ready to celebrate. These recipes will send ’em home feeling festive and full. It may just help you keep things in the black.

Hanukkah

This year Hanukkah begins on December 18 and ends on December 26. Two perennial Hanukkah favorites are brisket and roasted chicken. We have some great recipes for both.

Retherming Brisket in CVap

Brisket is growing in popularity. In the last decade, it has grown in popularity by 23 percent. Brisket is a relatively tough cut of meat. It must be cooked low and slow to break down its connective tissue. But if you don’t have the time or patience for a traditional cook, CVap can help you save time and effort. By cooking ahead of time and refrigerating, you can serve fresh brisket in a fraction of the time it takes to cook from raw. There are also quality commercial products, such as Hormel’s sliced brisket. These will save tons of time compared to cooking from scratch. Whether thermalizing your brisket or serving a prepacked product, CVap will help satisfy your guests. Read more here: Retherming Brisket in a CVap Oven.

retherming brisket

Beautiful Beef Brisket: Smoky, Juicy, and Tasty!

Do you have the time to cook a traditional brisket? We’ve got you covered. This blog describes how to smoke an incredible brisket: Beautiful Beef Brisket: Smoky, Juicy, and Tasty!

CVap Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables a la Thomas Keller

Are your guests more inclined to prefer chicken over beef? This roasted chicken and root veggie recipe is as hearty as it is easy. Shared with us by our late friend Chef Jim Waley, it’s an adaptation of a recipe by Chef Thomas Keller. Learn how to prepare it here: CVap Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables a la Thomas Keller

Corned Beef in CVap

Some customers will prefer their brisket as corned beef. We tackled that project too. This scratch recipe tested different cook settings to determine the best method for both sliced and shredded corned beef. Please read it here: Corned Beef in CVap.

roast chicken thomas kellar

Christmas

Turkey

Turkey is the center of many Christmas celebrations (not to mention Thanksgiving). Over the years, we’ve tested many turkey recipes in CVap ovens. They all produced excellent results. Rather than giving a synopsis of each recipe, we’ll list them here:

What the Turducken!

Want to give your Christmas celebrants a treat that they’ll never forget? Serve them turducken. Although the word starts with “turd,” it’s a culinary treat that few are willing to invest the time and effort in preparing. Turducken is a turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken, all layered with dressing. It’s a nutritionist’s nightmare but a diner’s fantasy. If you’re up to the challenge, learn how here: What the Turducken!

Turducken

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, dating from the mid-1960s. It celebrates African-American culture. The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits.” It’s based on the harvest traditions of parts of West and Southeast Africa. It occurs from December 26 to January 1 each year.

Kwanzaa food traditions are varied as the African diaspora. Popular dishes for this holiday are influenced by the cuisines of Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and the American Deep South.

holiday-recipes

CVap Gumbo Ya Ya!

A fantastic and easy dish to serve your Kwanzaa guests is gumbo. It’s inspired by the cuisine of Louisiana and is packed with robust Cajun flavor. It features chicken, sausage, and crawdads. Please read up on it here: CVap Gumbo Ya Ya!

Shuckin’, Crackin’, and Peelin’ – Let’s Dish Shellfish!

Treat your guests to the flavors of the Gulf Coast with this wide-ranging assortment of shellfish. There’s something here to please every seafood fan. Check out the recipe here: Shuckin’, Crackin’, and Peelin’ – Let’s Dish Shellfish!

New Year's Day

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

Want to really impress the folks celebrating New Year’s Eve in your restaurant? Nothing is more impressive than lobster tails. It’s hands-down the best part of this celebrated crustacean (and not nearly as challenging to eat as tackling an entire lobster). This recipe takes them from frozen to fantastic in about an hour. Read how here: Staging Lobster Tails for Catering.

The Day After

Yeah, we know, everybody starts a diet on New Year’s Day. But after a night of celebration, some folks are still going to want to start the new year with a great breakfast.

CVap Quiche with Fresh Kale

This quiche is easy and pretty nutritious. Hey, if it’s got kale, it can’t be all bad! Your guests will love it, even if they can’t pronounce it. Whip it up with this recipe: CVap Quiche with Fresh Kale.

retherming brisket

Hassle-Free Sous Vide Style Egg Bite

Are you offering a breakfast buffet for your new year’s patrons? These egg bites are easy to make and hold great in CVap. They are as simple as they are delicious. Read how: Hassle-Free Sous Vide Style Egg Bite.

chicken and waffles

Chicken & Waffles – Damn, It’s Good

So maybe your guests aren’t starting a diet on New Year’s Day. They can go all-out with the classic chicken and waffles. It’s sweet. It’s savory. And damn, it’s good. Read about it here: Chicken & Waffles – Damn, It’s Good.

Food Warmers Vs. Rethermalizers: Uses, Types, and Benefits

rethermalizer vs warmer

Having the right tools for the job makes all the difference. In a commercial kitchen, food rethermalizers and food warmers are two important tools. You might think these appliances do the same thing. However, their function is very different. Each has unique benefits.

What is a Rethermalizer?

In general, rethermalizers are appliances designed specifically to reheat prepared foods from a chilled or frozen state of less than 40°F to a temperature of more than 165°F safely and quickly. They don’t require food to be slacked or thawed before retherming. Rethermalizers must be capable of boosting food temperature through the “Danger Zone” (between 40°F and 140°F) in under two hours (not to be confused with Kenny Loggin’s classic Danger Zone). This is critical because bacteria reproduction goes into overdrive within that temperature range, doubling every 20 minutes. Once food passes 140°F those little bacterial bastards are killed off.

Most rethermalizers use water as a heat transfer medium.

rethermalizer vs warmer

Uses for a Rethermalizer

Just as the name implies, rethermalizers reheat food. They are especially useful in operations that prepare and freeze large batches of food ahead of time. Ideal menu items for retherming include soups, casseroles, sauces, pasta, vegetables, bread, desserts, and meats.

We all know that finding good help right now is a royal pain in the butt. With no end in sight to the tight labor market, it’s important to have tools that are easy to use and don’t need a lot of babysitting. Rethermalizers are a great option. They’re push-button simple, and most feature an automatic hold function. Many have programmed cooking functions, so staff can just load them up and push start.

Types of Rethermalizers

There are four basic types of rethermalizers: water bath, induction, combi oven, and CVap® Retherm Ovens. The first two are typically countertop appliances (though some large floor models are found in QSR chains). The latter two are usually floor models.

Bain Marie or water-filled rethermalizers use a water well to reheat food quickly and gently. Although this type can be a more economic option, there are a couple of disadvantages. Water-filled rethermalizers need about 15 minutes to preheat before adding the product. And it’s necessary to check the water level about every two hours. Allowing the water level to drop too low can damage the unit and burn the food.

Some water bath rethermalizers are sous vide immersion circulators. Food is prepped and sealed in vacuum bags. It can be cooked right away, or chilled or frozen for later use. The bagged products are placed directly in the heated water bath. Once it reaches serving temp food can remain in the water bath until serving. The water bath prevents it from overcooking or cooling down.

Induction rethermalizers remain cool until an induction-ready inset is placed inside. They are very efficient since no energy is expended in preheating. Virtually all heat is inducted directly into the food, quickly retherming it. Because induction units don’t utilize water baths, they won’t develop the funky scaling that can develop in water bath appliances.

rethermalizer vs warmer
foodservice products

Combi ovens are popular for rethermalizing. Combis get their name from their combination of hot steam and hot convected air to quickly retherm food. They are hella fast, and hella powerful. But they’re also hella expensive and can be pretty damned complicated to use. Speaking of expensive, you’ll want to factor in the required chemicals and maintenance that combis must have.

Like CVap Retherm Ovens, combis don’t just thermalize. Most are capable of a wide range of other cooking processes.

CVap Retherm Ovens use heated water vapor as their primary heat source. This means you can retherm in a CVap oven with or without vacuum bags. It’s like sous vide, without the mess. CVap ovens can also roast, steam, bake, sous vide, low-temp steam, proof, and more. You can even use them as food warmers. They automatically shift from cooking to holding mode at the conclusion of their cooking cycle.

Rethermalizers vs. Food Warmers

Rethermalizers can be used as food warmers. But food warmers cannot be used as rethermalizers. They perform very different functions. Rethermalizers are designed to quickly heat food to safe temperatures. Although food warmer might sound like it does the same thing, that’s not the case. Food warmers are designed to keep hot cooked food at a safe temperature. They aren’t designed to heat up cold food. If anybody tells you different, they are either pulling your leg or are ignorant to the basic functions of kitchen equipment.

What is a Food Warmer?

Food warmers maintain food temperatures above the minimum safe temperature of 140°F. They are called several different things: warmers, holding cabinets, hot boxes, warming drawers, etc. Food warmers are great for operations that have predictable rush periods, like school cafeterias and fast-food restaurants. They allow cooking to be done ahead of the rush. Food is held hot until serving. This allows more efficient use of the staff on hand. Just like rethermalizers, many warmers rely on heated water in some form to provide continuous heat.

Uses of a Food Warmer

As the name implies, food warmers keep food warm. They are useful in rush traffic situations and in operations that need to serve throughout the day. Food warmers help provide quick service by minimizing prep time.

food warmer

Types of Food Warmers

Food warmers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are simple, such as chafing dishes, heat lamps, warming shelves, and heated strips. The simpler warmers are only good for short-term holding, like on a serving line.

Countertop warmers are next up in the holding hierarchy. They include kettles, bins, and drawers. Kettles are great for soups and sauces. Bins usually hold full or fractional pans, so you can hold different products together (if they share similar settings). Warming drawers are great because they have a closed environment, enabling more precise control of food temperature. Drawers take up relatively little space, making them ideal for food trucks, concessions, and other operations where space is critical.

Finally, the largest food warmers are holding cabinets. These are available in under-counter, half, or full-sized configurations. They let you hold lots of food in a small footprint.

Just as there are different types of food warmers, there are also different technologies behind them.

Warmer Technologies

Dry warmers are just that. These drawers or cabinets, also known as “hot boxes,” use simple electrical heating elements to heat the unit interior. Because they don’t add moisture to the unit’s atmosphere, they can only hold for a short time before food quality starts to drop. Inevitably, food will start to lose its moisture. Not only does this dry the food out, but it also causes food temperature to drop (because evaporation is a cooling process).

Passive humidity warmers add a water bath to the unit’s interior. They are an improvement over dry warmers because the addition of a water bath means moisture isn’t being provided solely by the food itself. They are better than dry units but are less accurate than more sophisticated warmers.

Humidified warmers offer better temperature accuracy. Their internal water bath is temperature-controlled, which extends holding time.

The most accurate warmers are Winston’s CVap (controlled vapor) holding cabinets and warming drawers. CVap uses a dual-heat system of dry air heat and moist vapor heat. This means that CVap warmers precisely control food temperature and maintain the desired surface texture. CVap is equally effective at holding crisp or moist foods for extended times.

Rethermalizer vs. Warmer: Differences

As described previously, the biggest difference between rethermalizers and warmers is their function. Rethermalizers reheat or cook food. Food warmers do not. As mentioned before, you can hold food in a rethermalizer, but you cannot cook in a food warmer. Rethermalizers are designed for speed and require much more electrical power than warmers.

Rethermalizer vs Warmers: Similarities

Rethermalizers and warmers share some similarities. Many use some form of water or water vapor as the thermal medium to cook or hold food. Since water is efficient at heat transfer more energy is directed into the food than is wasted in the atmosphere.

Rethermalizer and warmers may have similar appearances. Although there may be some overlap in function, they serve different primary purposes.

Is My Kitchen Equipment Required to Be Under a Hood?

steamy kitchen
steamy kitchen

Does your commercial kitchen equipment require a vent hood? It depends on several factors. These include the type of equipment, your menu, and your operation’s location. The ultimate judges of hood requirements are your local health and fire officials. They will advise whether hoods are required and, if so, what type. Always check with local officials before proceeding. Most states and municipalities adhere to the International Mechanical Code. But you may find that your locale has additional guidelines. For example, New York City’s codes are more stringent than most other municipalities.

Commercial kitchen vent hoods are expensive. Depending on the type, they can cost as much as $1000 a foot to install. Add to that the cost of operating and maintenance, and you’ve got a substantial chunk of change. So, in these days of constant inflation, you may be looking to save where you can. Perhaps you’re wondering if your equipment must be under a hood.

Different Hoods for Different Situations

frying in oil

Type 1 Hoods

Appliances that produce greasy by-products and smoke require Type 1 hoods. These hoods primarily deal with the removal of grease particles from the air. For this reason, many refer to them as grease hoods. Type 1 hoods are typically above deep fryers, cooktops, open-flame stoves, conveyor-pizza ovens, char-broilers, and such. Because of the grease by-products that Type 1 hoods capture, they require frequent cleanings to help prevent damage and fire risks due to grease buildup.

Type 2 Hoods

Type 2 Hoods are for other kitchen appliances that don’t have to pertain directly to cooking. These appliances can include dishwashers, pasta cookers, and other equipment that doesn’t produce smoke or grease. Since Type 2 hoods mainly deal with removing heat and steam from the air, the industry refers to them as condensate hoods or heat hoods. They help create a more comfortable work environment.

We strongly advise you to contact a consultant or other knowledgeable foodservice professional to determine whether a vent system is needed (and if so, which type). Adding a ventilation system you hadn’t budgeted for is a financial blow for an operation that already operates on slim margins.

foodservice products

Vent Hoods and Winston Products

Collectramatic® fryers must always be under hoods. Likewise, a Winston Smoker Box with your CVap® oven will require it to be placed under a vent hood or outdoors. That little box generates a lot of smoke.

Although the above Winston products require vent hoods, you can usually use CVap products without hoods. We hired the independent testing firm Intertek to verify CVap’s compliance with the EPA’s Method 202 – Condensable Particulate Matter standards. The ovens were checked for particulate compliance using full loads of pizzas (good and greasy food). The results speak for themselves. CVap ovens breezed through to a passing grade. Place CVap ovens, holding cabinets, and warming drawers where sufficient electrical power is available.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, please don’t just take our word for it. As mentioned, local codes can vary a lot. It’ll save you money and peace of mind to consult with your local authorities (and perhaps a consultant) to ensure you comply with your area’s codes.

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods in Bulk

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods

Retherming bulk packages of prepared foods can be challenging unless you have the right equipment. To clarify, let’s discuss rethermalizing, define prepared foods, and outline what operations are likely to use premade food. Finally, we’ll talk about what equipment is best suited to retherm them.

What is Rethermalizing?

Rethermalization is the process by which prepackaged food that is either frozen or chilled is brought to hot temperatures safely and effectively. Food must transition through the temperature danger zone (41°F to 135°F) in under two hours to meet the FDA Food Code. And although we’re primarily talking about commercially prepared foods, you can also use the retherming processes on leftovers. When reheating leftovers, food must reach 165°F in under two hours (though 90 minutes is preferred). (If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, find specific requirements in Chapter 3 Section 403.11 – Reheating for Hot Holding – Subsection A – E (page 91) and Chart 4-B.)

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods

What are Prepared Foods?

Prepared foods encompass a wide range of food products. In the broadest sense, prepared food is food that is ready for consumption. It has been produced elsewhere and sold to the consumer (be that an individual or an organization). We’re speaking primarily of commercially prepared foods. These are foods that are mass-produced long before consumption. They come in a can, a chub, vacuum-seal, frozen, or other forms.

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods
Rethermalizing Prepared Foods
Rethermalizing Prepared Foods

Popular with operators, prepared foods decrease labor by outsourcing the initial food product. Portion control is made simple. And when rethermed properly, prepared foods are indistinguishable from made-to-order food.

Who Typically Serves Prepared Foods?

Although commercial foodservice primarily serves prepared foods, they are also popular in these foodservice segments:

B&I (Business and Industry)

Businesses that are not primarily foodservice operators but purchase foodservice items (such as corporate cafeterias).
It also includes government facilities.

Education

This includes preschools, K-12, colleges, and universities.

Healthcare

Another broad category. Includes hospitals, nursing homes, rehab facilities, senior living facilities, and others.

Concessions

Stadiums, museums, conference centers, amusement venues, country clubs, and others.

Catering

Also implemented at event facilities and mobile caterers.

These seem like widely disparate operations, but they have one thing in common.
They all need the ability to retherm large quantities of food quickly and safely.

Retherming Equipment

Achieve retherming by utilizing several different equipment pieces. The most common are rethermalizing ovens (a.k.a., thermalizersthermalizer ovensrethermalizersretherm ovens, and others).

Some folks may think first of combi ovens. Combis certainly can do the job and do it faster than most other oven types. But they also involve a substantial investment in upfront costs and operating costs. They require expensive vent hoods in most locations. A more economical option is the rethermalizing oven.

history why we build retherm ovens

In many respects, retherm ovens are like convection ovens or cook and hold ovens. However, retherm ovens have greater wattage and air movement. CVap Retherm Ovens also feature vapor heat. Consequently, this improves energy transfer efficiency. Retherm efficiency is the transfer of energy from a heated cabinet to a thermal mass (food) at a fast and controlled rate. In other words, retherm energy efficiency measures how much power an oven consumes and delivers to the food product during rethermalization. Since heated vapor is tremendously efficient at energy transfer, CVap retherm ovens excel at heating a thermal mass quickly.

Critically, the larger the thermal mass, the more energy (kW) is needed to transfer to the mass. Similarly, the more energy (kW), the faster the thermal mass can absorb the energy and reach desired temperatures. Consequently, this makes retherm ovens ideal for reheating chilled or frozen foods. They deliver lots of energy quickly.

Winston CVap Retherm Oven

Of course, Winston’s CVap® Retherm Oven is the hands-down best. CVap Retherm Ovens feature two circulation fans, providing robust air circulation throughout the oven. The fans speed up the retherming process and minimize hot or cold zones within the oven.

Winston-Foodservice-No-Vent-Hood

CVap ovens have a maximum air temperature of 350°F and can operate without a vent hood in most locations. Winston has conducted independent testing to verify. Hood availability is an important consideration when choosing an oven.

Another thing to consider when choosing a retherm oven is versatility. CVap Retherm ovens aren’t one-trick ponies. Yes, they’re great at retherming. But they can also bake, roast, sous vide, low-temp steam, and more. Whether serving prepared foods or cooking from scratch, CVap Retherm Ovens are the perfect oven for any large-volume feeder operation.

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

Lobster Tails

So you’re hosting a big catered event and want to impress your guests? There is nothing more impressive than lobster…if it’s done right.
We set out to show that CVap® ovens can stage lobster tails for catering right.

Staging Lobster Tails Process

Ingredients

  • 4-5 oz Lobster Tails
  • Melted Butter
  • Paprika

Allow the tails to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, per label instructions. Lobster (and all shellfish, for that matter) is unforgiving regarding safe handling. Make sure to only thaw in the refrigerator, and cook promptly once it has thawed.

Preheat the CVap oven.

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

The product we chose was Greenhead frozen lobster tails.

lobster

Settings

Cooking

  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Vapor: 136°F
  • Cook Air: Sous Vide

Holding

  • Hold Time: 2 hours
  • Hold Vapor: 136°F
  • Hold Air: Sous Vide

Prepare the tails by “boxing” them. This simply means to make an incision with scissors along the top spine of the shell. Crack the shell to carefully pull the lobster meat almost all the way out – BUT NOT COMPLETELY. Leave the end tail meat in the shell and lay the meatier portion on top, see image.

Douse raw tails with plenty of melted butter. Evenly sprinkle with a touch of paprika for color.

Staging Lobster Tails Results

To be honest, I LOVE crustaceans! But usually lobster is just meh. It probably has something to do with being hundreds of miles from the nearest coast. (yep, I’m a bit of a fresh seafood snob). Lobster is too expensive for the experience of chewing on rubber bands. Or at least that’s what I thought before cooking them in CVap. 

Lobster Tails
Lobster Tails
Lobster Tails

We reviewed these babies after about an hour into holding. The texture was tender and juicy. The flavor was buttery, briny, and sweet. They would be perfectly fine to serve in this state. But if you wanted to give them a little more texture or snap, you could finish them in a high-temperature convection, broiler, or even with a blow torch. This gives the lobster meat a toothier bite

CVap gives you so much flexibility and peace of mind. It ensures that all your hard work isn’t wasted by overcooking these tails and turning them tough and rubbery! Don’t shy away from utilizing them as a surf-n-turf option on your catering menu! CVap allows you to serve lobster with sous vide precision, but at a scale to feed scores of people.

What to do with all those lobster tail leftovers? Vac-packed and freeze them for later use! Or turn them into that New England favorite – lobster rolls!
That’s what we did.

We prepared two versions of lobster rolls:

OMG!!  So effing good!

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering
Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

Breakfast Enchiladas with Sausage & Bacon

Breakfast enchiladas

Need to fix breakfast for a bunch of people? Breakfast enchiladas are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Prepared in a CVap® oven, they are hearty and filling, and of course, deliciously easy.

Enchilada Facts

Of course, we like to nerd out a bit on our recipes. Like so many favorite foods, enchiladas come from Latin American cuisine. Although they were around much longer, enchiladas were first mentioned by Spanish invaders in the mid-1500s. Specifically, conquistadors were served enchiladas in the ancient Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán. Originally enchiladas were eggs in corn tortillas. The Spanish were quick to modify the native staple. They added meats and spicy sauces, to raise the flavor profile.

Cooking in Breakfast Enchiladas CVap

Admittedly, you don’t have to have a CVap oven to prepare enchiladas. However, if you need to serve more than a handful, a CVap oven will make your life so much easier. In this preparation, we prepared 40 enchiladas. But the recipe can easily be scaled up or down to suit the gang you are feeding.

Breakfast enchiladas

Breakfast Enchiladas Ingredients

  • 30 – Large eggs
  • 4 cups (1 qt) – Half-and-Half
  • 4 lbs. – Breakfast sausage of choice
  • 1½ lbs. – Bacon of choice (or real bacon bits & pieces)
  • 2 lbs. – Shredded cheese of choice
  • 40 – 6” Flour tortillas
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Breakfast enchiladas
Breakfast enchiladas

The Process:

  1. Preheat your CVap oven to Vapor 200°F/ Air 350°F. 
  2. Pre-cook the sausage in a full 2” hotel pan (should take 15 to 20 minutes).
  3. Pre-cook bacon on a full solid hotel pan (should take about 30 minutes).
  4. Transfer sausage to a bowl. Using gloves, crumble sausage until all the large bits have been broken up.
  5. Slice or chop bacon into small pieces. Reserve about 1/4 cup for top garnish. Add the rest of the chopped bacon to the sausage.
  6. Add half of the cheese to the sausage/bacon mixture. Reserve the rest of the cheese for the topping.
  7. Portion ¼ cup of sausage/bacon/cheese mixture onto each tortilla. Roll up and soldier into a hotel pan.
  8. Mix eggs and half-and-half until well combined. Pour evenly over the rolled enchiladas.
  9. Top with cheese and bacon garnish.
  10. You can bake immediately. However, you can also prepare this ahead of time, cover it, and refrigerate it for baking the next day.
  11. Bake in breakfast enchiladas CVap for about 90 minutes, or until the egg mixture is set and cheese is gooey and melted.

Chef’s note – Traditionally, breakfast enchiladas are made with corn tortillas. We opted for flour since it’s a little easier to work with, and tends to be a bit more popular. But by all means, prepare yours to suit your patrons’ preferences.

How to Pick a Holding Cabinet for a Commercial Kitchen

holding cabinet

No matter what type of commercial kitchen you’re operating, there’s a holding cabinet that can benefit you. Holding cabinets are a crucial part of any kitchen that serves hot food. They save time and labor. Consequently, holding cabinets can increase your bottom line.

What is a holding cabinet?

CVap commercial kitchen equipment foodservice products

Basically, holding cabinets are heated appliances designed to hold cooked foods at a safe serving temperature. Some holding cabinets do this well and some do not. Of course, the quality depends on the manufacturer and design.

Notably, people sometimes refer to holding cabinets as hot boxes, warmers, insulated warmers, hold and serves, warming cabinets, and other titles. Nonetheless, their function is the same.

Winston’s CVap® technology started as a holding technology. Colonel Sanders (yes, really) challenged our founder Winston Shelton to invent a cabinet that could hold his famous chicken for an extended time. Critically, the chicken had to maintain the infamously high quality that Sanders demanded. Shelton was up to the challenge.

Although the Colonel didn’t live to see the final product, CVap technology was the result. It revolutionized the foodservice industry. Nearly four decades later, CVap is still the pinnacle of holding cabinets.

All holding cabinets have the same job; keeping food hot until it’s served. Clearly, some do this better than others. It’s dependent on their design. Holding cabinets fall into four basic categories:

  • Dry holding cabinets
  • Passive humidity cabinets
  • Humidified holding cabinets
  • Controlled vapor holding cabinets

What Can I Use a Holding Cabinet Holding Cabinet For

As the name implies, holding cabinets are used for keeping food hot while serving. Although they’re found in all sorts of commercial kitchens, they’re particularly well suited for high-volume operations. These include fast-food establishments and institutional kitchens (schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.).

 Notably, holding cabinets cannot be used to reheat food – that’s a food code violation. But used with a little forethought, holding cabinets can reduce labor by allowing staff to prepare food ahead of rush periods. Depending on which type of cabinet you choose, holding cabinets can help you serve fresh hot food to all your patrons.

holding cabinet

How to Select the Right Select the Right Holding Cabinet

When it comes to selecting the right cabinet for your commercial kitchen, there are several factors to consider. In the interest of transparency, we’re only talking CVap holding cabinets here.

Your Volume

How much traffic do you see in a typical day? Is it spread throughout the day, or does it come in rush periods? If your volume isn’t particularly heavy, you may be able to thrive with a smaller CVap unit, such as a holding drawer or half-size holding cabinet. There’s no point in paying for more capacity than you need. On the other hand, higher-volume operations may want to consider larger cabinets, such as an HOV5-14UV or HOV3-14UV. Clearly, larger cabinets increase your holding capacity, so you can maintain food at high quality throughout meal periods.

Your Space

How much room is available in your commercial kitchen? If you’re in a confined space, such as a food truck or concession stand, you obviously don’t have a lot of room to work with. Smaller CVap cabinets, such as warming drawers, holding bins, or under-counter holding cabinets are a good solution. Likewise, larger spaces can accommodate bigger cabinets, from the half-size HOV7-05UV up to the HOV5-14UV. CVap holding cabinets don’t require vent hoods, so there’s no need to utilize that valuable space. Optional stacking kits give you the option of stacking two cabinets, doubling the footprint capacity. There’s a perfect size for any operation or workspace.

Your Menu

What food products are on your menu? CVap holding cabinets provide an extended hold on any food products. CVap truly excels at moist foods, such as soup, pasta, and seafood. The moist vapor environment inside CVap cabinets really interacts with the food’s moisture, locking in freshness for a long time. Foods that you wouldn’t consider particularly moist, such as pizza, burgers, or steaks will also hold fresh for an extended time. Nothing can hold forever, but these foods will hold for a substantial time before losing quality.

At the upper end of the scale are crisp foods, such as french fries. Again, CVap provides a respectable hold. But the high differential temperature required to properly hold crisp foods will inevitably cause food evaporation to creep up. This shortens the time before quality starts degrading. Don’t get us wrong, CVap cabinets still provide a respectable holding time. But it’s important to realize that even the best cabinets have their limits.

Does your operation offer baked goods? CVap holding cabinets are also excellent proofers. You can proof and hold in the same cabinet, getting double duty from the same footprint.

Your Budget

The brutal reality of today’s world is that everything is getting more expensive. Geopolitical turbulence (we’re looking at you, Russia), persistent pandemics, and supply chain strain is ratcheting up the cost of everything. This is particularly true of stainless steel. Naturally, stainless steel is the primary component of virtually every holding cabinet.

Money is always an issue. But at rocky times like these, you may be tempted to go with the cheapest cabinet you can get, namely a dry or passive cabinet. But you need to look beyond the initial cost. Buying the cheapest cabinets will save money up front, but over the life of that cabinet, the decrease quality of the food served from it will add up costs over time. In the end, it may cost you more than you saved by buying the el-cheapo cabinet.

CVap cabinets’ precision and elevated food quality really are the better option. We admit, CVap isn’t the cheapest brand out there. But it is the best. CVap in your commercial kitchen gives you the assurance that you are serving food at the absolute peak of quality.

Winston offers CVap holding cabinets in three feature levels, tailored to fit a range of budgets.

Our lowest tier is Series 3. The 3s feature simple membrane controls. They’re easy to operate, even for untrained staff. Although they’re the simplest CVaps, they still deliver the precise hold that people expect from CVap cabinets.

Next up are our Series 5 cabinets. The 5s have capacitive touch controls, desktop programming, a USB port for programming uploads and data downloads. Eight programmable channels cover about every type of menu. Convection fans minimize hot and cold zones with the cabinet.

The top of the line are our Series 7 cabinets. Series 7 have all the bells and whistles as the Series 5s, plus a few more. Wireless NFC programming enables you to reprogram the cabinet with the wave of your Android phone. Convection fans can be turned on and off. And a probe option gives you accuracy the is simply unrivaled.

As you can see, there’s a CVap holding cabinet to suit every budget.

Your Mobility

Sometimes you have to move it, move it. CVap cabinets come stock with casters, so moving them around your kitchen, whether to clean or to rearrange, is no problem. If you need to really move it around, consider adding the optional transport package. This includes 5” heavy-duty casters, push-pull handle, cord wrap, and evaporator cover. It’s perfect for commercial kitchens that need to move hot food from one area to another, such as from a school kitchen to a classroom.

CVAP Accessories

Ultimately, It’s Up to You

Nobody knows your operation as you do. In the end, you are the best judge of what you need. But if you need a little guidance, contact us. We’ll be glad to discuss your needs and options and suggest the best solutions for your commercial kitchen.