Soup is sexy now. The Hot Girls have reclaimed it. They came for it, godlike, descending with funny TikToks and semi-ironic Instagram posts. With outstretched, acrylic-nailed hands, the Hot Girl Community redeemed it, just as they have redeemed so many other things—depression, lateness, houseplants, and walking, to name just a few. Now it is soup’s turn.
Multiple TikTok trends currently center soup. One trend is simply creators lip-synching to the sound of Adam Driver saying, “Good soup,” on the TV show Girls. In another popular audio, a voice delivers a singsong ode that begins, “Gorgeous gorgeous girls love soup!” Soup recipes are going viral as if they contain conspiracy theories, instead of tips about swirling in olive oil. This summer Panera put out a “swim soup” merch collection, which immediately sold out. Reese Witherspoon and Lizzo are making soup. BuzzFeed put out a “sexy soup” quiz, and a popular Medium article recently posited that the best way to retain friends in adulthood is through “soup nights.” Soup is thriving. Soup is that girl. Soup is simply hot right now.
It makes sense. Soup sits at the nexus of fall-harvest culture, wellness-smoothie culture, and slow cooker culture. Name a more powerful placement. Soup is a down comforter for your insides. It exists in every cuisine. And it gets better and more complex over time. It was only a matter of time before it became a sex symbol. But for years soup has been in what we might call its flop era—it has suffered from a reputation associated with sickness and lack of better options. Until recently, eating soup was nothing to advertise. It was a rehearsal for old age.
Soup, scholars tell us, is about as ancient as cooking itself. It has been on the grandest of tables—think soupspoon etiquette, think the Pride and Prejudice crew downing “white soup” at the ball at Netherfield. It is also associated with poverty—soup kitchens or Charlie Bucket’s family, pre–Chocolate Factory, subsisting on cabbage soup. In contemporary times you would think soup, which is said to have healing powers, would be lionized. Instead, we mock it. “LOLOLOL just eating soup alone on a Friday night,” you might text your friend, from a pit of self-loathing that you hope seems charming. Soup never stopped tasting good, but culturally, it has had the stink of despair.
No longer. “I just realized that soup is just savory smoothies,” popular TikTok creator Ghosthunny says in a recent video, before adding, “Witches love soup.” The sight of a Hot Person of any gender eating soup has a kind of high-low playfulness to it. Cue: soup-fluencers. The rise of bone broth in the 2010s. The “soup diet” fad. Ariana Grande and her family discussing what soup they would be if they were soups. The proliferation of pho shops and ramen shops. Instant noodle hacks passed around the internet like makeup tips. The music video for the 2019 song “Chicken Noodle Soup” by former BTS member J-Hope has more than 307 million plays on YouTube.