European Soup Etiquette,
(Take It or Leave It)
Margaret Visser on 14th century European customs:
Soups and stews with their liquid sauces were served in bowls, one for every two diners, male and female couples shared.
Desiderius Erasmus, "On Civility in Children," 1530:
It is not polite to blow noses at the table or spit at the table and never put chewed bones back on plates (rather, throw them on the floor for the dogs). At banquets, two people share each soup bowl and use squares of bread (trenchers) to serve as plates.
Margaret Visser on medieval and Renaissance European customs:
For a formal meal, dinner à la francaise, two or more soups in tureens would be served first then removed from the table. Wine would never be served with the soup, the idea being that the soup would serve in a delicate way to fortify empty stomachs before the drinking began. For family dinners, the meal could be a thick soup with bread and cheese, or the meal would begin with a light soup and proceed through meat, two vegetables, and dessert.
What if the soup was too hot? Giovanni della Casa wrote in 1558 that you should never blow on it, because it disgusts your fellow diners and contaminates the soup: "There was never wind without rain."
St. John the Baptist de la Salle (1651-1719), French educator and founder of the Christian Brothers, in The Rules of Christian Manners and Civility, 1695:
"In taking soup, it is necessary to avoid lifting too much in the spoon, or filling the mouth so full as almost to stop the breath"
Margaret Visser on 17th century European customs:
When spoons became part of service in the 17th century, you "ate" (not drank" soup with a spoon.
Michael Precker, reporter for The Dallas Morning News:, 1/1/03
A German designer has created a soup dish with a tilted bottom so diners don't have to breach etiquette by lifting it to finish off the broth.