How to Eat Soup Properly: 8 Etiquette Tips

Eating Soup Properly

Who doesn’t love soup? It can be served hot or cold for a palate-pleasing appetizer. A thick and hearty bowl of soup can serve as a soul-warming main dish. Chicken soup can comfort us on stressful days or when we are feeling under the weather.

There are a few catches with soup, though. Despite being the simplistic food that it is, learning how to eat soup properly can be a little tricky, especially for kids. Even for adults, you may find it tricky to ladle soup without splashes and spills or without slurping it as you bring it to your mouth.

So what is the proper way to eat soup? Here are a few etiquette tips to help you enjoy and learn how to eat soup correctly:

1. Choose the Right Soup Bowl

Before you ever dip your spoon in your soup, it's important to know how to eat soup properly. This starts with the bowl or cup your soup is served in. If you’re having a casual lunch, you can serve your soup in a soup cup or deep bowl on top of an underplate. For more formal events or dinners, soup protocol dictates that you serve soup in a shallow soup bowl with an underplate.

The type of soup you serve also affects what kind of bowl it should be served in. If you’re serving a clear soup at dinner, a shallow bowl is considered proper soup protocol. All soup bowls should include an underplate, even if there is already a plate on the table. This allows your guests to put their spoon on the underplate, without getting their dinner plate (or your table) dirty. While your everyday soup eating doesn’t require this level of decorum, it’s a handy idea to include a plate under whatever soup cup you decide to use because it keeps messy spoons off your tables.

2. How to Eat Soup Without Slurping?

While you might slurp your soup in the comfort of your own home, when you eat soup with others slurping is often considered to be annoying or distracting to those around you. Most people slurp to cool their soup as they eat, but there is a better (and less messy) way to go about it.

Instead of slurping, the correct way to eat soup is to sip it from the side of your spoon like a drink. If you’re worried it’s too hot, a small sip should let you know if you need to wait for it to cool down before enjoying your dish. If you’re in a formal setting you should never blow on your soup or stir it to cool it. Proper soup protocol is to lightly hold the spoonful of soup above your bowl so it cools before you bring it to your mouth. 

3. Eating vs. Drinking Your Soup

When you're learning how to eat soup properly and avoid getting messy, you might wonder if you’re supposed to eat soup or drink it. While this varies by culture, American etiquette depends on how the soup is served as well as what kind of soup it is. If you’re served soup in a cup, such as at a lunch event, you can drink the remaining broth after you've eaten everything else first. This helps prevent spills because you don't have to risk a chunk of meat, noodles, or veggies spilling on you unexpectedly.

Most of learning how to eat soup correctly is simply to keep you from spilling soup on the table or on your brand-new shirt. If you’re served soup in a soup bowl at a formal event or dinner, you should never drink from your soup bowl directly, as it’s considered poor etiquette.

4. The Proper Way to Eat Soup with a Spoon

Most people learn how to eat soup by scooping it toward their body. However, when you spoon it up in the opposite direction, any soup that falls off of the spoon will make its way back to the bowl instead of elsewhere. As you spoon your soup away from your body, you should also gently wipe the bottom of your spoon on the top edge of your bowl. This will take any extra soup off the bottom of your spoon so the drips don’t end up in your lap. No mess, no fuss.

Inserting the pointed part of the spoon directly into your mouth will cause more spills. Try eating from the side of the spoon. It’s cleaner and also less awkward-looking. The correct way to eat soup when using the side of the spoon is to gently (and quietly) sip your soup. Don’t place the entire spoon in your mouth. Also, only fill your spoon three-quarters of the way to avoids spilling as you bring your soup to your mouth.

5. Dipping Bread in Soup Etiquette

Yes, we see you dipping bread into soup. And a home, we’re right there with you. However, it admittedly can be messy and increase the chances of spilling or dripping soup on yourself. The correct way to eat soup at formal gatherings dictates that you should never dip your bread into your soup. Proper soup etiquette for bread is to sip your soup from your spoon, place your spoon on your plate, and then use the same hand you use for your spoon to pick up your bread and take a bite.

6. Add Crackers Sparingly

Learning how to eat soup properly also includes how to add oyster crackers, saltines, or croutons to your dish. Piling your soup high with soup crackers is a bit gauche, and even though we all like crackers, piling them high leads to a soggy mess no one wants to eat. There are even different ways to eat each kind of cracker.

Oyster crackers are usually included with your soup and come on your underplate. Add them in small amounts so you get a nice crunch with your delicious soup. For saltines, you should add a few at a time and keep the remainder on your bread plate until you are ready to add them to your soup. Finally, croutons are usually served in a communal dish that you add sparingly as you desire. Following this soap etiquette tip will keep your soup from getting chunky and gloopy with mushy crackers.

7. Tip the Soup for the Last Few Drops

Having trouble getting to that last bit of soup? First, tip the bowl away from you. Then scoop up the remaining soup with your spoon, making sure not to clang your spoon against the bowl as you get those last delicious drops. Then put the bowl down and hold the spoon over it so any drips will fall back into the bowl.

8. Use the Plate

Your soup bowl will likely come resting on a plate. Between bites and after you are finished with your soup, rest your spoon on the plate. If you rest it in your bowl, you could accidentally flip it, sending soup flying across the table, especially if it’s a small bowl. Proper soup protocol prescribes that when you’re finished with your soup, place your spoon on the right-hand side of your plate, or leave the spoon in the bowl with the handle pointing toward the right. If your soup is served in a cup you should always leave the spoon on the plate when you’re finished.

Learning How to Eat Soup Properly

While you don’t need to worry about the correct way to eat soup when eating from the comfort of your own home, many of these tips on how to eat soup properly can help keep more soup in your bowl and off your clothes at a party or other social event

When you need a good bowl of soup, check out Spoonful of Comfort’s many options. You’re sure to find a delicious soup to warm you up, or gift to someone else to brighten their day. Enjoy your soup without spills or awkward moments by observing basic soup protocol and you’ll be a soup-eating pro in no time.