Soup spoons

Soup spoon

A soup spoon is a type of spoon used for eating soup. The idea of including a separate soup spoon in a table setting originated in the 18th century, when bowl shapes varied widely, deep or shallow, oval, pointed, egg-shaped or circular. Spoon shapes became more standardized in 19th century silverware. Today there are at least two types of soup spoon. One first, the typical Western soup spoon, is the shape and size of a dessert spoon (ie smaller than a tablespoon), but with a deeper, more circular bowl for holding liquid Modern soup spoons are typically of stainless steel or silver, but in the past wooden and horn spoons have been more common.

The other type is the flat-bottomed ceramic Chinese soup spoon.

The soup spoon is placed innermost at the right of the plate on which the soup bowl will be set, with smaller spoons ranged outside it. [Note: The previous does not seem correct. The usual practice is to set flatware from outside to inside in the order used. Since soup is usually the first course, the soup spoon would go outermost.]

A good soup spoon is large enough to deform the mouth when it is pushed in like a shovel. Sipping soup from the side of the spoon might be too refined for some company; sophisticated diners adjust their table manners to suit others. Etiquette for eating soup from a wide, flat bowl with a spoon does vary, but classical manners do consist of these points:

  • the soup spoon is tipped up and drunk from while holding it outside the mouth;
  • the soup spoon is filled in the bowl by movement away from the eater in western cultures, while movement towards the eater is used in eastern cultures;
  • the bowl of the spoon is touched soundlessly to the rim of the bowl to eliminate a possible drip before raising it to the mouth;
  • the bowl itself may be tipped slightly to fill the spoon, but should be tipped away from the eater in western cultures, but tipped towards the eater in eastern cultures

The logic of the second and fourth points is to avoid spilling soup in the lap for western cultures, whereas in eastern cultures rather to have the soup spill on oneself than to disrupt the meals of others (and possibly spill it on them).

  • Soup spoons are always placed in the plate below the bowl. If following proper etiquette, they are never left in the bowl, even momentarily, and never allowed to touch the table.


  • Metal soup spoon similar in shape to a teaspoon
  • Chinese soup spoon, jap:散り蓮華, ちりれんげ, chirirenge lit. "fallen lotus petal" — usually ceramic and of a distinct Chinese soup spoon shape, which can vary in size from normal soup spoon size to near-platter size.
  • Ladle: a large soup spoon with an upright handle, for service

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