Soup can be used to start a meal in the same way you would serve a leafy salad. Although multiple course meals are more trouble than they may be worth, there will be times when such extravagance will be warranted, to placate a loved-one for not remembering her birthday, or for refusing to take a walk on a crisp fall Sunday afternoon because the Football season has started.
The only problem with soups as the first course is that, unlike salads, they tend to be substantial, and they quickly fill a gaping maw as well as the huge pit behind. If you insist on serving soup before a meal, do it in small quantities or be faced with guests eating insufficient quantities of the main dish. You do not want to be left with huge quantities of leftovers Besides, as any cook will tell you, the prime satisfaction in making a meal is seeing your guests wolf down the main course, and subsequently being incapable of suppressing a loud belch. (That's another reason I usually serve beer instead of wine to guests.)
Soup is best as the main course of a simple meal, especially during basketball season when a sit down meal at the table is an imposition and the only company you really want are a few guys from the office who care more about the final four than they do about being offered a finger bowl. Dipping a cup in a huge pan of soup is the most efficient way to serve and be served during a twenty second time-out. Just don't forget to set the crackers on the coffee table. Such and error might result in an untimely dash to the kitchen. You are likely to miss a perfect three pointer from the top of the key that will decide the game. Sure they will show it in replay, but you can't say you really saw it if you don't see it as it happens. Anyone can watch a replay. To truly understand a great play one must have viewed it in the context of the game as it occurs, not as an isolated incident. I don't know why women can't understand this subtlety. My wife always insists that I look at her when she speaks to me during the game. She thinks that I don't hear what she is saying until she sees my eyes focused upon her. Little does she know that I have mastered the art of seeming to listen - and it really doesn't matter if I am making eye contact or not. Yet, I can't risk making even this gesture on the chance I might miss an important play.
Another advantage of soup is that it does not require a sense of timing. Once it is made, it can set on the stove for hours to be devoured at any time. For those of us who are continuous eaters, this is a great advantage.
Soup can be made from almost anything although I would not make it from meat loaf which is already made out of almost anything - the loaf part tends to gum up the works. Thus, making soup is a good way to get rid of leftovers. You can toss nearly any kind of meat into a pot of boiling water along with some onions, sliced potatoes, add some salt and pepper; and in an hour or two you will have a nice pot of soup. A good example of a soup concocted from leftovers is Leftover Chicken Soup :