What is a serving size for soup?

Determining the appropriate serving size for soup can be tricky. Soup comes in many varieties, with ingredients that can vary widely in terms of calories, fat, protein, and other nutrients. Plus, bowl sizes differ. So what’s considered a standard serving?

What Factors Determine Soup Serving Size?

Several key factors go into determining serving size for soup:

  • Type of soup – Cream-based soups are more calorie dense than broth-based soups.
  • Ingredients – Soups with lots of meat, pasta, or starchy vegetables have more calories per serving than veggie-based broth soups.
  • Calorie content – Lower calorie soups around 100 calories per serving, while higher calorie soups are 300+ calories per serving.
  • Bowl size – A bowl can range from 12-24oz capacity. Bigger bowls fit more soup.

Nutrition experts base recommended serving sizes on the calorie content of the soup. Lower calorie soups have larger serving sizes, while higher calorie soups call for smaller serving sizes to control portion sizes and calories.

Typical Serving Sizes for Different Soup Types

Here are some general serving size guidelines for different soup varieties:

Broth-based Soups

  • Chicken noodle: 1 cup
  • Minestrone: 1 1/4 cups
  • Wonton: 1 cup
  • Vegetable: 1 1/4 cups
  • Ramen: 1 package (3 oz dry)

Cream-based Soups

  • Broccoli cheese: 3/4 cup
  • Loaded baked potato: 3/4 cup
  • Clam chowder: 1 cup
  • Cream of mushroom: 3/4 cup

Hearty Meat & Bean Soups

  • Beef barley: 1 1/4 cups
  • Split pea: 1 cup
  • Lentil: 1 cup
  • Chili: 1 cup
  • Bean with ham: 1 cup

Cold Soups

  • Gazpacho: 1 cup
  • Vichyssoise: 3/4 cup

These serving sizes provide around 100-250 calories per portion. Pay attention to calories if you are counting them for weight management.

Tips for Measuring Soup Servings

To get accurate soup serving sizes at home, consider these tips:

  • Use measuring cups – Ladle soup into a dry measuring cup to get an exact serving size.
  • Check the label – Canned and packaged soups will list serving sizes.
  • Weight it – Use a kitchen scale and measure soup servings by weight in grams or ounces.
  • Eyeball the bowl size – Use bowls of known capacity like 1 cup, 1.5 cups, 2 cups.
  • Portion into containers – Divide a batch of homemade soup into containers equal to one portion.

Nutrition Information Per Serving Size

Soup nutrition can vary greatly depending on the ingredients. Here is the typical nutrition content for some popular soup varieties based on one standard serving size:

Soup Type Serving Size Calories Fat (g) Carbs (g) Protein (g)
Chicken Noodle Soup 1 cup 100 2 15 6
Tomato Soup 1 cup 225 4 45 5
Broccoli Cheddar Soup 3/4 cup 330 26 29 13
French Onion Soup 1 cup 180 10 14 5
Beef Barley Soup 1 1/4 cups 300 6 55 15
Cream of Mushroom Soup 3/4 cup 180 10 11 3
Lentil Soup 1 cup 230 1 40 18
Wonton Soup 1 cup 65 2 10 5
Chili 1 cup 240 8 20 24
Vegetable Soup 1 1/4 cups 115 2 20 5

Seafood bisques and chowders tend to be higher in calories and fat since they rely on cream and butter for a smooth, rich texture. Bean soups provide a good amount of fiber and protein. Brothy soups like chicken noodle are lowest in calories, carbs, fat, and protein.

Ideal Serving Size for Weight Loss

If you are following a weight loss diet, be mindful of portion control when eating soup. Some tips:

  • Stick to broth-based, veggie, bean soups for lower calorie options.
  • Have a 3/4 cup serving of cream soups.
  • Limit higher calorie additions like bread, croutons, crackers.
  • Avoid ladling refills. Stick to one measured serving.
  • Pair with a salad or lean protein as a balanced meal.

Consuming soup as a snack between meals or as an appetizer can also help control portions at main meals.

Serving Size for Kids

Children have smaller stomachs and calorie needs than adults. Here are age-appropriate soup serving sizes for kids:

  • Toddlers (1-3 years): 1/4 cup
  • Preschoolers (4-5 years): 1/3 cup
  • Elementary (6-9 years): 1/2 cup
  • Tweens (10-12 years): 3/4 cup
  • Teens (13-17 years): 1 cup

Focus on offering young children broth-based or blended creamy soups for an easy-to-eat texture. As kids get older, they can handle heartier soups with more ingredients.

Tips for Consuming Soup as a Meal

Soup can be a filling standalone meal if you boost the protein, fiber, and nutrients. Here’s how:

  • Have soup with a whole grain roll or side salad.
  • Mix in cooked grains like rice, quinoa, or barley.
  • Add beans, lentils or chickpeas.
  • Include meat, poultry, fish or tofu.
  • Top with cheese, nuts, seeds, or avocado.
  • Serve with whole grain crackers.

Pairing soup with a protein source and fiber-rich side makes it more satisfying and nutritionally complete.

Common Soup Bowl Sizes

Bowls for soup come in a variety of sizes. The capacity of the bowl influences how much soup it can hold. For the average adult, some typical soup bowl sizes include:

  • Snack bowl: 12-16oz
  • Cereal bowl: 20-24oz
  • Soup bowl: 24-32oz
  • Pasta bowl: 30-40oz

Larger, deeper bowls hold more soup than flat, wide bowls. Bowls made for pasta or rice often have the biggest capacity. Salad bowls and cereal bowls have less space for soup. And small snack bowls are best for little portions.

How Bowl Size Impacts Portions

Using larger bowls typically leads people to unintentionally overeat. We tend to consume more from bigger packages and plates. So beware of supersized serving portions if your soup bowls run on the giant side.

Research shows serving soup from a 16-ounce bowl instead of a 32-ounce bowl resulted in people eating 20% less soup at a meal. The bigger bowls fit more soup, so people filled them and ate the whole portion.

For the best portion control, use smaller bowls in the 12-20oz range. Or if you eat from a huge 32oz bowl, try filling it only halfway to resist overeating.

Tips for Consuming Leftover Soup

Got leftover soup? Here are some healthy ways to use it up:

  • Freeze individual portions in microwave-safe containers.
  • Use as a sauce or base for grain bowls or Buddha bowls.
  • Add to casseroles or stir into pasta dishes.
  • Blend into smoothies or protein shakes.
  • Mix into egg scrambles or omelets.
  • Stir into risotto or rice pilaf dishes.
  • Portion into small containers for on-the-go lunch.

Soups stay fresh in the fridge for about 3-5 days. Freeze leftovers for longer storage up to 3 months. Reheat frozen soup safely by cooking on the stovetop or in the microwave until steaming hot.

Serving Soup at a Party

Planning to serve soup at a party or gathering? Here are some tips for determining portion sizes:

  • Have a mix of lighter broth-based and heartier cream soups.
  • Allow for 12-16oz portions per person if soup is a main course.
  • For soup as an appetizer, do 6-8oz portions.
  • Offer demi cups, small mugs, or espresso cups for portion control.
  • Set up a soup bar so guests can serve themselves controlled amounts.
  • Have Ladles available for serving instead of allowing double dipping.

Providing a combination of soup options allows guests to sample different flavors.

Serving Soup at a Restaurant

Dining out for soup? Pay attention to the serving sizes, which are typically:

  • Cup: 8-12oz
  • Bowl: 12-16oz
  • Quart: 32oz

The standard soup bowl size at most restaurants holds 12-16oz. This is an appropriate amount for an appetizer or a light meal paired with salad and bread. Quart-sized containers are meant for large gatherings or multiple servings.

Strategies for Managing Portions

To control your portion sizes when ordering soup at a restaurant:

  • Select broth-based or veggie soups which tend to be lower calorie.
  • Order a cup instead of a bowl.
  • Ask if bowl sizes are 12oz or 16oz to identify smaller options.
  • Avoid free bread baskets or overdoing crackers.
  • Split a bowl size with a dining partner.
  • Take half home in a to-go container.

Being mindful of portion sizes, ingredients, and additions will allow you to enjoy soup out while still eating healthy.


In summary, a standard serving size for soup depends on the type of soup and ranges from 3/4 cup to 1 1/4 cups for most adult portions. Kids and teens need smaller serving sizes. Consuming soup from bowls on the smaller size, like 12-16oz, can help prevent overeating. Pair soup with protein, vegetables, and whole grains to make it a complete meal. Use healthy cooking methods and limit high-calorie add-ons when eating soup to control calories and portions.

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