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For other uses, see Soup (disambiguation).
A Polish forest mushroom soup
Type Soup
Main ingredients Liquid (stock, juice, water), meat or vegetables or other ingredients
Variations Clear soup, thick soup
Cookbook: Soup  Media: Soup

Soup is a primarily liquid food, generally served warm (but may be cool or cold), that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water, or another liquid. Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavors are extracted, forming a broth.

Traditionally, soups are classified into two main groups: clear soups and thick soups. The established French classifications of clear soups are bouillon and consommé. Thick soups are classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used: purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish or vegetables thickened with cream; cream soups may be thickened with béchamel sauce; and veloutés are thickened with eggs, butter, and cream. Other ingredients commonly used to thicken soups and broths include egg,[1] rice, lentils, flour, and grains; many popular soups also include carrots and potatoes.

Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two; however, soups generally have more liquid than stews.[2]


Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC.[3] Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers (which probably came in the form of clay vessels). Animal hides and watertight baskets of bark or reeds were used before this. To boil the water hot rocks were used. This method was also used to cook acorns and other plants.

The word soup comes from French soupe ("soup", "broth"), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa ("bread soaked in broth") from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word "sop", a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.

The word restaurant (meaning "[something] restoring") was first used in France in the 16th century, to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup, sold by street vendors, that was advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant for the eating establishments.

In the US, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith's The Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman's Companion and it included several recipes for soups and bisques. A 1772 cookbook, The Frugal Housewife, contained an entire chapter on the topic. English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. In particular, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Boston called "The Restorator", and became known as the "Prince of Soups". The first American cooking pamphlet dedicated to soup recipes was written in 1882 by Emma Ewing: Soups and Soup Making.

Portable soup was devised in the 18th century by boiling seasoned meat until a thick, resinous syrup was left that could be dried and stored for months at a time.

Commercial products

Commercial soup became popular with the invention of canning in the 19th century, and today a great variety of canned and dried soups are on the market.


Seven varieties of Habitant brand soup.

Doctor John T. Dorrance, a chemist with the Campbell Soup Company, invented condensed soup in 1897.[4][5] Today, Campbell's Tomato, Cream of Mushroom, and Chicken Noodle Soup are three of the most popular soups in America. Americans consume approximately 2.5 billion bowls of these three soups alone each year.[4]

Canned soup can be condensed, in which case it is prepared by adding water (or sometimes milk), or it can be "ready-to-eat," meaning that no additional liquid is needed before eating. Canned soup (condensed with liquid added, or "ready-to-eat") can be prepared by heating in a pan, on the stovetop or in the microwave. Such soups can be used as a base for homemade soups, with the consumer adding anything from a few vegetables to eggs, meat, cream or pasta.

Condensing soup allows soup to be packaged into a smaller can and sold at a lower price than other canned soups. The soup is usually doubled in volume by adding a "can full" of water or milk (about 10 ounces).

Since the 1990s, the canned soup market has burgeoned with soups marketed as "ready-to-eat," which require no additional liquid to prepare. Microwaveable bowls have expanded the ready-to-eat canned soup market even more, offering convenience (especially in workplaces) and are popular lunch items.

In response to concern over the health effects of excessive salt intake, some soup manufacturers have introduced reduced-salt versions of popular soups.[6]


Dried ramen noodle soups are popular lunch items.

Asian-style soup mixes containing ramen noodles and seasonings are marketed by Western and Asian manufacturers as an inexpensive instant meal, requiring only hot water for preparation.[7]

In terms of Western-style cuisine, vegetable, chicken base, potato, pasta and cheese soups are also available in dry mix form, ready to be served by adding hot water and sometimes fresh ingredients such as meat or vegetables.


Soup course
For a more comprehensive list, see List of soups.

Soup is often served as the starter, first course, or entrée before a main meal. In 1970, Richard Olney gave the place of the entrée in a French full menu: "A dinner that begins with a soup and runs through a fish course, an entrée, a sorbet, a roast, salad, cheese and dessert, and that may be accompanied by from three to six wines, presents a special problem of orchestration".[8]


Chè sweet dessert soup with chewy rice-flour-balls topped with sesame


Main article: Fruit soup

Fruit soups are prepared using fruit as a primary ingredient, and may be served warm or cold depending on the recipe. Many varieties of fruit soups exist, and they may be prepared based upon the availability of seasonal fruit.


Cold soups are a particular variation on the traditional soup, wherein the temperature when served is kept at or below room temperature. They may be sweet or savory. In summer, sweet cold soups can form part of a dessert tray. An example of a savory chilled soup is gazpacho, a chilled vegetable-based soup originating from Spain. Another example is mool naeng myun which is a Korean cold beef broth.[9]


Main article: Asian soups
Tom yum served in Bangkok, Thailand.
Chinese fish ball soup sold in Bukit Batok, Singapore.

A feature of East Asian soups not normally found in Western cuisine is the use of tofu in soups. Many traditional East Asian soups are typically broths, "clear soups", or starch thickened soups.

Traditional regional varieties

Main article: List of soups
Ukrainian soup
Swiss soup
Vegetable beef barley soup
  • Halászlé (fisherman's soup), a very hot and spicy Hungarian river fish soup, is made with hot paprika.
  • Íslensk Kjötsúpa is a traditional Icelandic meat soup made with lamb and vegetables.
  • Kharcho is a Georgian soup of lamb, rice, vegetables and a highly spiced bouillon.
  • Kulajda is a Czech sour cream soup.
  • Kuy teav (Vi: hủ tiếu), a Cambodian/Southern Vietnamese pork rice noodle soup, often in combination with shrimp, squid and other seafood, topped with fresh herbs and bean sprouts
  • Kyselo is a traditional Bohemian (Krkonoše region) sour soup made from sourdough, mushrooms, cumin, potatoes and scrambled eggs.
  • Lagman, a tradition in Uzbekistan, is made with pasta, vegetables, ground lamb and numerous spices.
  • Lan Sikik is a Thai soup made with noodles, dried fish and tomato extract.
  • Leek soup, a simple soup made from leeks, is popular in Wales during Saint David's Day.
  • Lentil soup is popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
  • London particular is a thick soup of pureed (dry or split) peas and ham from England; purportedly it is named after the thick fogs of 19th century London.
  • Magiritsa soup made in Greece and Cyprus using lamb offal.
  • Maryland crab soup is made of vegetables, blue crab meat, and Old Bay Seasoning in a tomato base, from Maryland.
  • Menudo, a traditional Mexican soup, is with tripe (usually beef) and hominy.
  • Michigan bean soup has been a staple for over a hundred years in the U.S. Senate dining room in the form of Senate bean soup.[10]
  • Minestrone is an Italian vegetable soup.
  • Miso soup is made from fish broth and fermented soy in Japan.
  • Mulligatawny is an Anglo-Indian curried soup.
  • Nässelsoppa (nettle soup), made with stinging nettles, and traditionally eaten with hard boiled egg halves, is considered a spring delicacy in Sweden.
  • Nkatenkwan is a heavily spiced soup from Ghana based on groundnut with meat, most often chicken, and vegetables added. It is generally eaten with fufu.
  • Noodle soup is the common name for a diverse collection of soups with varied ingredients, including noodles.
  • Okroshka is a cold soup of Russian origin.
  • Partan bree is a Scottish soup made with crabmeat and rice
  • Patsás is made with tripe in Greece. It is also cooked in Turkey and the Balkan Peninsula.
A thick pea soup garnished with a tortilla accent.
  • "Peasants' soup" is a catch-all term for soup made by combining a diverse—and often eclectic—assortment of ingredients. Variations on peasants' soup are popular in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Africa.
  • Philadelphia pepper pot soup, a Philadelphia specialty, is traditionally made with tripe.[11]
  • Phở is Vietnamese beef or chicken soup with scallions, welsh onion, cherred ginger, wild coriander (Eryngium foetidum), basil, cinnamon, star anise, clove and black cardamom.
  • Psarosoupa, a Greek fish soup, is made in various versions with a variety of fish types.
  • Revithia is a Greek chickpea soup.
  • Sancocho is chicken soup with vegetables in Latin America.
  • Scotch broth is made from mutton or lamb, barley and root vegetables.
  • Shchav, a sorrel soup in Polish, Russian and Yiddish cuisines, is sour from the sorrel.
  • Shchi, a Russian soup with cabbage as the primary ingredient.
  • She-crab soup, from Charleston, South Carolina, is a creamy soup made with blue crab meat and crab roe.
  • Sinigang, from the Philippines, is a clear sour soup made from tamarind paste and meat, fish, or vegetables.
  • Snert (erwtensoep), a thick pea soup, is eaten in the Netherlands as a winter dish, and is traditionally served with sliced sausage.
  • Solyanka – Russian soup on a meat, fish or vegetable broth with pickles, spices and smoked meat or fish.
  • Sopa da Pedra, is a rich traditional Portuguese soup with lots of ingredients.
  • Sopa de Peixe, is a traditional Portuguese fish soup.
  • Soto, a traditional Indonesian soup made with turmeric, galangal, etc., usually contains either beef or chicken.
  • Soupe aux Pois Jaunes traditional Canadian pea soup that is made with yellow peas and often incorporates ham.
  • Svartsoppa a traditional Swedish soup, whose main ingredient is goose and, sometimes, pig's blood, and is made in Skåne, the southernmost region of Sweden. The other ingredients typically include vinegar, port wine or cognac and spices such as cloves, ginger and allspice. The soup is served warm with boiled pieces of apple and plums, goose liver sausage and the boiled innards of the goose.
  • Split peas soup, a thick soup made in the Caribbean from split peas (chickpeas or garbanzos), usually includes "ground provision" vegetable staples and some type of meat.
  • Tarator is a Bulgarian cold soup made from yogurt and cucumbers.
  • Thukpa bhatuk is a Tibetan cuisine noodle soup which centers on little hand-rolled bhatsa noodles.
Chunky tomato soup with a sandwich
  • Tomato soup comes in several varieties, with tomatoes in common.
  • Tom yum is the name for two similar hot and sour soups with fragrant herbs from Laos and Thailand.
  • Tarhana soup, from Persian cuisine is made with fermented grains and yogurt.
  • Trahanas is a variation of the above soup using chicken and Halloumi cheese
  • "Tuscan bean soup" is an Italian classic, using cannellini and borlotti beans, and prosciutto
  • Vichyssoise, a French-style soup invented by a French chef at the Ritz Hotel in New York City, is a cold purée of potatoes, leeks, and cream.
  • Waterzooi is a Belgian fish soup.
  • Yukgaejang, a Korean spicy beef soup, also includes vegetables.
  • Żurek, a Polish sour rye soup with sausages, is often served in a bowl made of bread.
  • Ärtsoppa, Swedish split pea soup, served with mustard and fresh marjoram or thyme. It is traditionally eaten as lunch on Thursdays. It is served together with Swedish punsch as beverage and Swedish pancakes with preserved berries for dessert.

As a figure of speech

Mirepoix consists of carrot, onion and celery and is often used for soup stocks and soups.

In the English language, the word "soup" has developed several uses in phrase.

  • Alphabet soup, a large number of acronyms used by an administration. The term has its roots in a common tomato-based soup containing pasta shaped in the letters of the alphabet.
  • "In the soup" refers to being in a bad situation.[12]
  • Primordial soup, the organic mixture leading to the development of life.
  • A soup kitchen, a place that serves prepared food of any kind to the homeless.
  • Souperism, the practice of bible societies during the Irish Great Famine to feed the hungry in exchange for religious instruction. The expression 'took the soup' is used to refer to those who converted at the behest of these organizations offers of food.
  • Stone soup, a popular children's fable about a poor man who encourages villagers to share their food with him by telling them that he can make soup with a stone.
  • Duck soup, a simple soup, stands for a task that is particularly easy.
  • Duck Soup, title of a Marx Brothers' film in 1933.
  • Tag soup, poorly coded HTML.
  • "From soup to nuts" means from beginning to end, referring to the traditional position of soup as the first course in a multi-course meal.

See also


Romanian potato soup
  1. ^ Thickening Soups. Retrieved on 2 May 2013.
  2. ^ Goltz, Eileen (9 November 2008). "Soup vs. stew: Difference in details". The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana). Retrieved 6 March 2010. [dead link]
  3. ^ Wu, X.; Zhang, C.; Goldberg, P.; Cohen, D.; Pan, Y.; Arpin, T.; Bar-Yosef, O. (2012). "Early Pottery at 20,000 Years Ago in Xianrendong Cave, China". Science 336 (6089): 1696–1700. doi:10.1126/science.1218643. PMID 22745428. 
  4. ^ a b Campbell's: Our Company, History. Retrieved on 2 May 2013.[dead link]
  5. ^ Genovese, Peter (2007). New Jersey Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Globe Pequot. p. 174. ISBN 0762741120. Retrieved March 2013. 
  6. ^ Hurley, J. and Liebman, B. Soups: The Middle Ground. Nutrition Action December 1997. Retrieved on 2 May 2013.
  7. ^ About Nissin Foods. Retrieved on 2 May 2013.
  8. ^ Olney, The French Menu Cookbook 1970:22.
  9. ^ Korean Cold Beef Arrowroot Noodle Soup, Mool Naeng Myun (칡냉면) & A Surprise Pairing. Korean American Mommy (18 July 2010). Retrieved on 2 May 2013.
  10. ^ Michigan Bean Soup recipe and history, the Honorable and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller IV, U.S. Senator.
  11. ^ APPLE Jr, R. W. (28 May 2003). "A TASTE OF PHILADELPHIA; In Hoagieland, They Accept No Substitutes". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  12. ^ McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. 2002. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Further reading

  • Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food (2002). New York: Free Press ISBN 0-7432-2644-5
  • Larousse Gastronomique, Jennifer Harvey Lang, ed. American Edition (1988). New York: Crown Publishers ISBN 0-609-60971-8
  • Morton, Mark. Cupboard Love: A Dictionary of Culinary Curiosities (2004). Toronto: Insomniac Press ISBN 1-894663-66-7
  • Victoria R. Rumble (2009). Soup Through the Ages. McFarland. ISBN 9780786439614.