Downton Abbey Inspired Dinner and Etiquette Talk, part 4

We are starting with a soup course. Soup might be ladled from a soup tureen, or as we have it, already in bowls as we sit down. Most of the guests tonight have rimmed soup bowls, also called deep plates. I have a cream soup bowl, which is smaller in diameter and taller with no rim and a little handle on each side. It sits on a large saucer. One guest has a rimless medium deep bowl called a coupe. All of them are placed on under plates called service plates, even mine with its saucer. We are using dinner-sized plates as service plates, but service plates are often larger. They may be as large as thirteen-inch chargers, but that’s rather grand.


Our soup spoons are at the far right on the right side of the place settings. My spoon is quite round and I explain that it is a cream soup spoon. A cream soup will not have solid pieces of food and so it may be sipped from the side of the spoon. The guests have table or place spoons which are shaped like teaspoons, only larger. Because the country tomato soup we are having has pieces of onions, they will eat the soup from the front of the spoon which can go right into your mouth.


A spoon is always held resting across the third finger, against the end of the index finger, and held in place by the thumb on top. The soup is spooned with a motion away from you toward the far rim of the bowl, allowing you to remove a drip by touching the spoon on the rim although this is to be done only when necessary. The spoon then makes a concave arc to your mouth. The soup spoon maybe left in the bowl until you have finished the soup, but it is better to place it on the underplate between sips and should always be placed on the underplate when you are finished. It is perfectly proper to tilt the soup bowl slighted away from you to get the last spoonful or two. And to general surprise, I explain that it is also proper for me to lift my cream soup bowl by the two little handles and drink from it. If the soup were a clear bouillon, the bowl would be a bouillon cup, a slightly smaller version of my cream soup bowl and the bouillon spoon a slightly smaller version of my cream soup spoon. Again I may drink directly from it using two hands.

To be continued…..