Mm… who doesn’t love a good soup? Soups are heartily welcomed everywhere in the world. Chicken noodle, vegetable, miso soup…

In Quebec, it is a habit to start all meals off with a simple soup (except breakfast). I remember being a bit puzzled when I first arrived in Quebec. I was at a summer camp and every meal started with soup and crackers. I mean, this isn’t that unusual if it wasn’t for the fact that I do mean EVERY meal (excluding breakfast) would begin with a bowl of soup. That’s when I asked around and found out it was a Quebec tradition.

Can you then guess where we get the word soup from in English?

The French word “soupe,” of course! Now what is there to really say about soup? Well it just so happens that the word has a curious origin. Soupe normally brings to mind a broth with vegetables and sometimes chunks of meat.

But did you know that the word started off meaning “bread”?

Yes, indeed! “Une soupe” was a piece of bread that had hot broth, milk, or wine sprinkled over it.

Here’s a quote from Joan of Arc on this subject:

We would serve cups of wine and the guests would dip slices of bread therein, that we would call soups.

Thus, soups were the piece of bread found at the bottom of a bowl. It was considered a meal for poor people. Chefs would wait until all the main meals were cooked, then take advantage of the heat left in the oven by throwing in slices of leftover bread to be dried and turned into “soupes.”

But history goes to show that this meaning didn’t stick. Languages evolve and the word “soupe” eventually came to mean the broth that surrounds the piece of bread that was originally the word itself.

This makes sense especially when you take a look at a widely used saying in French.

Être trempé comme une soupe

To be-soaked-like-a-soup

To be soaking wet

At first glance this doesn’t seem to fit as a soup can’t really be soaked, it’s already a liquid! Now because we know that “soupe” actually means bread, it all comes together.

Let’s take a look at some more expressions with “soupe”

Cracher dans la soupe

To spit-in-the-soup

To bite the hand that feeds you

La soupe fait le soldat.


You can’t get good results from someone you don’t treat well.

Être à la soupe de quelqu’un

To be-at-the-soup-of-somebody

To side with a political power only to profit from it

So what’s your favorite soup expression? In any case, I bet you’ll never be able to think of the word soup in the same way!

About the Author

Charlie has been a French as a Second Language Classroom Teacher at the Elementary and Secondary levels and has been teaching and tutoring adults, teenagers, and children for over 8 years.

—————– For your FREE eBook on the powerful TOP French resources I used to go from speaking zero French to being SUPER fluent in no time, please visit –

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