Table Manners: The Proper Way to Eat Soup

published Oct 18, 2012
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(Image credit: Jerrelle Guy)

At home, soup-eating is usually a casual affair, with no special rules or etiquette. But have you ever wondered about the proper way to eat soup, especially at a formal dinner or fancy restaurant? From where to rest your spoon between bites to how to politely get the last drops of soup from the bowl, we have the answers.

At a table setting with a lot of utensils, the soup spoon will be placed on the far right, and is usually recognizable by its wide, round bowl. Soup should be scooped from the side of the bowl furthest from you, and sipped (never slurped!) from the side of the spoon that faces you. Bring the spoon up to your mouth instead of leaning over the bowl while eating. To eat the last bit of soup from the bottom of the bowl, tilt the bowl away from you slightly to scoop it up with your spoon.

Soup can be served in a wide, shallow soup plate or a deeper soup bowl. If you’re eating from the former, the spoon should be rested in the soup plate in between bites and when you are finished eating. If it is the latter, always rest the spoon on the plate below the bowl, not in the bowl itself. If the soup is served in a cup with handles, it is appropriate to lift the cup up and sip from it directly, but use your spoon to eat any solid ingredients like vegetables or noodles.

Want to see proper soup-eating in action? Check out the video below. (If “action” isn’t how you’d describe a video of a woman demonstrating how to politely eat soup, you may want to skip it.)

This etiquette applies to soup-eating in the United States, but there are many other ways to eat soup around the world. Do you come from a culture that has different rules? How do you eat soup?


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