The Top 7 Etiquette Tips for Graciously Eating Soup


how to eat soup

By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor

If you enjoy soup, you’ll love this post! I’ve gathered seven savvy etiquette tips for how to eat it plus two of the best soup recipes ever!

One is for a creamy, yet chunky potato soup that’s steeped in flavor. It’s from my dear friend Christy Jordan, a cook like no other, and founder of the wildly successful blog full of heart, humor, and charm,

The other is my own recipe for French Onion Soup. I took the classic soup and tweaked it so that sweet onions float in a rich, deep beef broth topped with easier to eat, and tastier, bread, and of course cheese — you get to decide how much yummy, gooey cheese tops this classic French Onion with a twist.

Both recipes are easy enough to fix after a busy day and good enough to serve company!

This post is in reply to a question from a participant at a business dinner seminar I was teaching to executives at a corporation in Nashville. One of the attendees wrote her question on a 3″ by 5″ card that I have available for the Q&A session that’s part of most of my seminars and talks.

How to Eat Soup — The Question

Hi Maralee!

Are there any tips you can give me for eating soup? I fix it often for my family, but my husband, our teens, and I make a mess. It drips on clothing, the chair cushions, the table, and even the floor. What are we doing wrong? Do we use the big spoon or the little spoon that came with our silverware? Also, any tips for French Onion? My husband was eating the cheese off the bowl with his fingers in a restaurant. I about died. (LOL)

How to Eat Soup Graciously — The Top 7 Tips (Including How to Eat French Onion Soup)

I can definitely help with those questions. Here’s all you need to know about the etiquette of eating soup. Number seven is all about French Onion!

1. Spoon your soup away from you in the bowl. This seems like it’s the opposite of what you should do. Why move the soup further from you when you’re trying to bring it to your lips? Spooning it away from you allows any soup that is going to dribble off the spoon to end up back in the bowl on its short journey back across the bowl, instead of on your shirt, blouse, or lap. It definitely helps reduce spills!

Because that is a counterintuitive etiquette, there’s a short memory device from long ago that was written to help us remember which direction to spoon our soup. It goes:

Like ships that go out to sea, I spoon my soup away from me.

2. Eat/sip the soup from the side of your soup spoon, not the front (tapered end). Otherwise, all the soup runs down to the “point” and causes it to spill more easily.

3. To get to the last drops of soup, it’s fine to tip your soup bowl or plate away from you. Once soup is on the spoon, set the bowl down and allow the soup to journey back across your bowl, soup plate, or cup so that any soup that’s going to drip off the spoon has time to do so on its little journey.  🙂

4. When soup is served in a cup or round bowl with a plate under it, place your spoon on the underplate between sips and when you’re finished. The soup spoon doesn’t go back in smaller bowls because it’s too easy to accidentally knock it out of the bowl and send it flying. Also, wait staff have to remove it before they can pick up your bowl because it will fall out if they try to carry it with the spoon still inside the cup or bowl.

5. When soup is served in a soup plate (a very wide open bowl) with no plate under it, place your spoon in the bowl between sips and when finished, not on your bread plate or any other plate. The proper spoon to use is the larger spoon that came with your silverware set. (The smaller spoons are fine for young children with little mouths and hands that can’t comfortably manage the larger spoon.)


how to eat soup

A bowl of soup with the spoon resting correctly on the plate underneath instead of in the soup bowl.


6. If adding crackers, add them a little bit at a time. You don’t want to turn your soup into something resembling oatmeal. It’s fine to drop one or two oyster crackers or crumble one saltine at a time into your bowl. Place the remainder of your crackers on your bread plate, or the plate underneath your soup bowl.

7. Traditional French Onion soup is delicious but tricky! When you’re at a need-to-impress meal, I’d suggest skipping it no matter how much you’re craving it. For other times, here’s how to maneuver your way through this gooey delight. Eat the cheese first by twirling it around your spoon and “cutting” it by pressing it against the side of your soup bowl or crock. If this won’t work (it hardly ever does for me!), then go ahead and cut the cheese that’s dangling from your spoon with your knife. Once the cheese is gone, it’s easy enough to eat the bread and broth underneath.

Now, about all the yummy cheese baked on the outside of the crock. Two choices: be very polished and leave it alone, or say, “The heck with it!” and enjoy! If you choose the latter, try getting the baked-on cheese off with your spoon, not your fingers. (At least while anyone is watching!)

Bonus tip: You don’t want to blow on your soup, or any food, to cool it. It sends the signal that you’re impatient. Allow your food to cool on its own, and you’ll earn the reputation of one cool tablemate. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Two Delicious Soup Recipes to Make to Try Out Your New Soup Skills

Recipe #1: Christy Jordan’s Favorite Best Ever Potato Soup


Southern Plate Potato Soup

Christy calls this a Fall soup. I live in Florida, and I call it a year-round soup. If you need an excuse to make this soup, you can always turn the air conditioning down a degree or two. ;)


The recipe for Christy’s Favorite Best Ever Potato Soup includes a full photo tutorial and a printable recipe card. Trust me, you’re going to love this flavor-rich and taste-bud-satisfying soup!

Recipe #2: Maralee’s Deep Flavored, Easy to Eat French Onion Soup

Since this isn’t a cooking blog like Christy’s, I don’t have a full tutorial for you. However, this is so easy that you won’t need it. Don’t let the ease of this recipe fool you; it’s one of the best French Onion Soups I’ve ever tasted. It rotates often through the monthly menu at our home!


  • Two packages of fresh-sliced (not diced) sweet onions, OR two large onions hand-sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 28 ounces store-bought beef stock (preferred for richest flavor) or beef broth
  • your favorite flavor of large croutons
  • one or two cups shredded Swiss cheese

Cooking instructions:

In a soup pot, sauté onions, sugar, and pepper in olive oil for about 20 minutes over medium to medium-low heat until onions are caramelized and just starting to get tender. You’ll want to stir this frequently.

Add the beef stock, and bring it to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 30 minutes. (Less time is OK if you’re hungry and don’t feel like waiting!)

Spoon soup into oven bowls or microwave-safe bowls. Sprinkle the desired amount of croutons over soup in bowls. Top each bowl with as much shredded Swiss cheese as you’d like. Melt the cheese one of three ways:

  1. It will melt on its own if you let it sit a minute or two.
  2. Melt in the microwave for 30 seconds. Microwave cooking times vary greatly, so use your best judgment.
  3. If you want a brow and bubbly crust on the cheese as pictured in the photo, place under the broiler for two or three minutes, watching it closely the whole time and being careful that the cheese doesn’t burn.

This recipe can be doubled! It can also be cooked in advance. Reheat and top with the croutons and cheese just before serving.

What’s Next?

If you have anything you’d like me to write about, let me know. If you have a question, you know a thousand other people have the same one! Please, send it in, because it will help so many people. I’ll add it to our list and get right on it! Contact me at:

Blessings galore and enjoy your soup,

how to eat soup

Maralee McKee

About Maralee McKee

Maralee McKee is the founder of Manners Mentor. With her best friend style, sense of humor, and knack for updating etiquette to meet our modern sensibilities, she has been referred to as "Sandra Bullock meets Emily Post!" Maralee shows you how to become the best version of yourself. No fluff. No pretense. Just you at your authentic best! The person you were always meant to be! Maralee is a native and life-long resident of Orlando. Before entering the etiquette arena, she worked in management and ministry. She's proud to be Kent's wife and Marc and Corbet's mom. She hates laundry, and loves quality tea, London, and Savannah, Southern cooking, dressing up and dressing down, and Miss Lilly the Wonder Sheltie. You can find her picture if you scroll to the footer of this page. Isn't she the cutest dog ever?!!! PS: Because everyone always asks her, "What's your etiquette pet peeve?" It's people who talk on their phones in public restrooms. The person on the other end of the phone must wonder, "What's that noise. It sounds, it couldn't be." Plus, everyone else in the bathroom is held hostage to a one-sided conversation usually shouted to try and cover up the noises. It would be comical if it weren't plain wrong on many levels. ;)

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