Serious Eats / Tim Chin
Great soups can be comforting, hearty, complex, and delicious—and pairing them with a nice soup bowl makes them even better. Whether it’s an appetizer, side, or entree, there’s a bowl out there in the right shape, size, and material to make your meal pop. But it’s not just about function: we created a list of our favorite soup bowls for their usability as well as their aesthetics.
The Criteria: What to Look for in a Soup Bowl
Picking out the perfect soup bowl is easier when you know how different shapes and materials can impact the soup experience. This list can help you narrow down exactly what you’re looking for.
Material: Both stoneware and porcelain are types of ceramics, but porcelain undergoes vitrification when it’s fired at high temperatures, meaning that the material itself turns partially into glass. Stoneware excels at heat retention, while porcelain is more durable and can be made into thinner bowls that are lighter in weight. Both tend to be microwave-, dishwasher-, and oven-safe to varying temperatures.Size: Larger bowls can accommodate more soup, but too big of a bowl will cause the soup to spread out and lose heat quicker. It’s good to have a few size options on hand for when you’re serving soup as a side or an entree. Height and width: Deeper, narrow bowls create more thermal mass and can help soup retain more heat. A shallow, wider bowl helps thicker stews and blended soups cool down quickly so they’re easier to eat shortly after being served. Straight or rounded sides: Bowls with straighter sides can cut down on sloshing but gently sloped rounded sides can help brothier soups give off more of their aromatics (but they’re also more spillable). Raised bowls: Bowls with a taller foot bring the soup closer to the diner, which is ideal for soups like ramen or pho.
This stunning blue stoneware set is nicely sized at a 22-ounce capacity and comes with a ringing endorsement for their durability from our commerce editor, Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm. “I’ve used a set of Le Creuset’s stoneware mugs daily for about two years now and have accidentally dropped them in the sink mid-washing and knocked them over many a time. They still look like new!” she says. The bowls feature the three concentric rings that Le Creuset showcases on their Dutch oven lids and also come in teal and white.
Our associate commerce editor, Grace Kelly, really likes these smaller porcelain bowls (around 16 ounces) from Dansk: “Instead of being unwieldy, they are dainty and elegant, and the flat rims make them easy to grasp and move. Their decoration—simple blue lines that wrap around the white porcelain edge—makes dinner on a Tuesday night at my home in the ‘burbs feel like dinner on Friday night in a Paris bistro.” While Grace’s favorite bowls are limited to a full set, Food52 also offers a slightly different version with a narrower rim for sale individually.
“We eat a lot of dinners on the couch, so these gigantic bowls are great for avoiding spills when eating soups or salads,” says our commerce writer, Jesse Raub. With an extra-large capacity of around 45 ounces, these bowls are big enough to accommodate any meal size, and because they’re made with feldspar porcelain, they’re extremely durable and lightweight.
East Fork makes great-looking dinnerware, but we also love the more angular slope of their soup bowl. Its narrow bottom flares out to a wide brim, holding 28 ounces, which helps the soup hold temperature near the base while the top layer cools slightly quicker for folks eager to dig in. They come in six core colors and East Fork also offers limited edition seasonal tones, like Butter and Piglet.
Haand’s slightly irregular shape is gorgeous, and we love the flat bottom of their sharing bowl. At 38 ounces, it’s a larger piece, and the sturdiness of the flat bottom helps keep it steady for meal-sized brothy soups (think: pho or ramen). It can also double as a serving bowl.
These ramen bowls from Casafina are deep, come up to straight-sided walls by the lip, and hold 33 ounces—perfect for their namesake soup. They’re also slightly elevated. Handcrafted in Portugal, they come in three different colors and are dishwasher- and microwave-safe. There’s also a 21-ounce soup bowl with straighter sides in this collection that’s available in seven different colors, while the ramen bowls come in four.
When soup isn’t the main meal, these high-temp fired porcelain bowls from Made In are perfectly sized at around 18 ounces. With a lightly flared lip for easy carrying, they’re also oven-safe up to 580ºF. Available in white or with a navy, red, or black bistro stripe, they’re sturdy, versatile, and have classic good looks.
With beautiful dynamic glazes (like Speckled White, Blush Pink, and Beachgrass Green), these stoneware bowls from Fable are eye-catching and practical. With a 20-ounce capacity, they’re great for serving soups during a multi-course meal or perfect for oatmeal (or a large serving of ice cream). Made in Portugal, they’re also oven-safe up to 450ºF.
This set from Our Place has vertical walls, making it versatile for soups, cereal, snacks, and just about anything else you can think of with their near 16-ounce capacity. They come in a number of vibrant colors, too, making them a great option for people looking to brighten up their decor.
Porcelain is more durable than stoneware, which allows for thinner bowls that can be lighter without sacrificing their strength. This set from AnBnCn is also extremely affordable at $23 for a set of six. We like the 22-ounce size for their versatility, but they also come in 40-, 65-, and 75-ounce sizes for folks who want to go big!
This low-cost stoneware set from Williams Sonoma comes in a demi-matte glaze, is microwave- and dishwasher-safe, and is rated for commercial use, which means they’re extra durable and designed for use in busy restaurants. They’re great for stocking up for dinner parties, and match with a whole collection if you’re looking for more than just bowls.
The Big Bowls from Year & Day are short and wide, almost like a cross between a soup bowl and a pasta bowl. They’re also dishwasher-, microwave-, freezer-, and oven-safe up to 480ºF.
These bowls are on the smaller side (they’re 16 ounces) of our picks, but we can’t resist their beautiful, handmade quality. Their natural clay sides are great at keeping soups hot or cold, and their size is perfect for appetizer soups (think: chilled gazpacho on a blistering hot summer day). Even with their natural exterior, all of Jono Pandolfi’s dinnerware is microwave- and dishwasher-safe.
What’s the best type of bowl to keep soups warm?
Ceramic and porcelain are great at absorbing heat, which can then help insulate the soups you serve. At the same time, bowl shape can also regulate temperature: narrower bowls with higher sides can create more thermal mass, insulating the soup longer than wider, shallower bowls.
What shape should a soup bowl be?
Different-shaped soup bowls serve different purposes: wide and shallow bowls can help thick stews and pureed soups cool down easier, while bowls with high sides help brothy soups from spilling over the edge while moving them. There’s no right or wrong shape for a soup bowl, however, as long as it’s comfortable to hold, easy to eat from, and it doesn’t hurt if it’s easy on the eyes, too.
What is the best size for a soup bowl?
Soup bowls come in many different sizes, and we have recommendations from 18 up to 45 ounces. Brothy soups intended to be a main tend to fit more comfortably in bowls between 30 and 40 ounces, while most of our other recommendations are in the 20- to 30-ounce range for their versatility.