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Main ingredientsLiquid (stock, juice, water), meat or vegetables or other ingredients
VariationsClear soup, thick soup

Soup is a primarily liquid food, generally served warm or hot (but may be cool or cold), that is made by combining ingredients of meat or vegetables with stock, milk, or water. Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavors are extracted, forming a broth. 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 (broth) than stews.[1]

In traditional French cuisine, 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 rice, lentils, flour, and grains; many popular soups also include pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, pig's trotters and bird's nests.[2]

Other types of soup include fruit soups, dessert soups, pulse soups such as split pea, cold soups and other styles.


(William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1865)

The earliest evidence for soup in human culinary practice dates to the Upper Palaeolithic period when thermally altered rocks became commonplace in the archaeological record.[3][4] Small boiling pits are present on the Gravettian site Pavlov VI.[5] Cobbles were heated on the hearth and then placed into the water to bring it to boil. However, the antiquity of soup is highly contested. Based on ethnographic evidence, some archaeologists conjecture that early humans employed hides and watertight baskets to boil water.[6]

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.[citation needed] In 1765, according to Prosper Montagné's Larousse Gastronomique, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant to refer to eating establishments.[7]

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.[citation needed]

Commercial products

An advertisement for Campbell's canned soup, c. 1913

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.


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. Condensed soup (invented in 1897 by John T. Dorrance, a chemist with the Campbell Soup Company[8][9]) 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 US fluid ounces (300 ml). The "ready-to-eat" variant can be prepared by simply heating the contents of the can on a kitchen stove or in a microwave oven, rather than actually cooking anything. 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.

Since the 1990s, the canned soup market has burgeoned, with non-condensed soups marketed as "ready-to-eat", so they require no additional liquid to prepare.[citation needed] Microwaveable bowls have expanded the "ready-to-eat" canned soup market even more, offering convenience (especially in workplaces), and making for popular lunch items. In response to concerns over the negative health effects of excessive salt intake, some soup manufacturers have introduced reduced-salt versions of popular soups.[10]

Today, Campbell's Tomato (introduced in 1897), Cream of Mushroom, and Chicken Noodle (introduced in 1934) are three of the most popular soups in America. Americans consume approximately 2.5 billion bowls of these three soups alone each year.[8] Other popular brands of soup include Progresso.


Instant soup in a powder form

Dry soup mixes are sold by many manufacturers, and are reconstituted with hot water; other fresh ingredients may then be added.

The first dried soup was bouillon cubes; the earlier meat extract did not require refrigeration, but was a viscous liquid.

East Asian-style instant noodle soups include ramen and seasonings, and are marketed as a convenient and inexpensive instant meal, requiring only hot water for preparation.[11] While North American ones tend to have a powder pack only, instant noodles sold in East Asia commonly include a pack of dried vegetables too.

Western-style dried soups include vegetable, chicken base, potato, pasta and cheese flavors.


For a more comprehensive list, see List of soups.

Soup course

In French cuisine, soup is often served before other dishes in a 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".[12]



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.


Salmorejo is a thick variant of gazpacho originating from Andalusia.

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.[13] Vichyssoise is a cold purée of potatoes, leeks, and cream.


Main article: Asian soups

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

Hippocrates soup used in Gerson therapy
Lentil clear soup from Međimurje County, Croatia

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.

The direct translation for soup in the Filipino language, sabaw, is used as a figure of speech, referring to moments where one is unable to think straight, as if one's brain is empty, much like a bowl of soup devoid of any ingredients. It can also refer to someone who says something that makes no sense, thereby referring to them as sabog.[25]


See also


  1. ^ Goltz, Eileen (9 November 2008). "Soup vs. stew: Difference in details". The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana). Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  2. ^ "5 Ways to Thicken Soup to Achieve the Perfect Consistency". Better Homes & Gardens. Archived from the original on 31 January 2023. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  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. Bibcode:2012Sci...336.1696W. doi:10.1126/science.1218643. PMID 22745428. S2CID 37666548.
  4. ^ Speth, John D. (5 September 2014). "When Did Humans Learn to Boil?" (PDF). Paleoanthropology Society. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 October 2022. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  5. ^ Svoboda, Jiří A. (30 December 2007). "The Gravettian on the Middle Danube". PALEO. Revue d'archéologie préhistorique (19): 203–220. doi:10.4000/paleo.607. ISSN 1145-3370. Archived from the original on 30 December 2022. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  6. ^ Nelson, Kit (1 June 2010). "Environment, cooking strategies and containers". Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 29 (2): 238–247. doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2010.02.004. ISSN 0278-4165.
  7. ^ Montagné, Prosper; translated by Turgeon, Charlotte (1977). "The new Larousse gastronomique : the encyclopedia of food, wine & cookery". Internet Archive (in English and French). New York : Crown Publishers.
  8. ^ a b "Campbell's: Our Company, History". 2005. Archived from the original on 6 March 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  9. ^ Peter Genovese (2006). New Jersey Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities and Other Offbeat Stuff. Globe Pequot Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-7627-4112-0. Retrieved 26 January 2016.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Soups: The Middle Ground". 24 January 1998. Archived from the original on 24 January 1998. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  11. ^ Nissin (30 January 2023). "Nissin | About Us - Momofuku Ando's Dream". Nissin. Archived from the original on 29 January 2023. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  12. ^ Olney, The French Menu Cookbook 1970:22.
  13. ^ Korean Cold Beef Arrowroot Noodle Soup, Mool Naeng Myun (칡냉면) & A Surprise Pairing Archived 2 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Korean American Mommy (18 July 2010). Retrieved on 2 May 2013.
  14. ^ Barrell, Ryan (13 March 2017). "13 Hangover Cures the World Swears By". Paste. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  15. ^ Candelaria, Cordelia (2004). Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture. Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture. Greenwood Press. p. 291. ISBN 978-0-313-33210-4. Archived from the original on 19 August 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  16. ^ Fulton, M. (2009). Margaret Fulton's Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery. Hardie Grant Books. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-74273-231-2. Archived from the original on 18 August 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  17. ^ Frater, J. (2010).'s Ultimate Book of Bizarre Lists. Ulysses Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-56975-885-4. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  18. ^ Selasky, Susan (13 June 2012). "French onion soup warms from the inside". Albuquerque Journal. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  19. ^ Smith, A. (2013). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. OUP USA. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-19-973496-2. Archived from the original on 19 August 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  20. ^ Michigan Bean Soup recipe and history Archived 2 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine, the Honorable and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller IV, U.S. Senator.
  21. ^ Yarvin, B. (2012). The Ploughman's Lunch and the Miser's Feast. Harvard Common Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-55832-413-8. Archived from the original on 18 August 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  22. ^ APPLE, R. W. Jr. (28 May 2003). "A TASTE OF PHILADELPHIA; In Hoagieland, They Accept No Substitutes". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  23. ^ Sarianides, G. (2004). Nosthimia!: The Greek American Family Cookbook. New American Family Cookbooks. Capital Books, Incorporated. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-931868-73-0. Archived from the original on 20 August 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  24. ^ "In the soup". McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2002.
  25. ^ "sabaw-moments-tumblr". InqPOP!. Archived from the original on 24 October 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2021.

Further reading