Winning this game will be duck soup!

The phrase 'duck soup' is an old Americanism that has been around since at least 1902. It refers to something that is very easy. A cinch. A breeze. Like falling off a log. It has been in constant use for 100 years, although it is admittedly becoming less and less common as time goes on. The most interesting thing about it is that no one knows where it came from.

The first recorded use of duck soup is from 1902, when cartoonist Tad Dorgan used it in a rather odd cartoon. It was a drawing of a man in police court, juggling a bottle, a pitcher, a plate, and a salt shaker. It was captioned, simply, "Duck Soup".

We don't know what Mr. Dorgan was talking about, but since then it has come into common usage to mean something very easy. The second appearance of duck soup was in 1908, when cartoonist Harry Conway Fisher used it in his strip A. Mutt (later to become Mutt & Jeff). This time the meaning was clear from context: "Attorney Shortribs announced that it would be duck soup to clear their client."

And that's it. We have no idea why duck soup would imply easy. Duck soup is not hard to make, but it's no easier than chicken soup. It might be related to the phrase 'a sitting duck', or maybe 'everything's just ducky', but then what does soup have to do with anything? It's possible that 'duck soup' just refers to a duck sitting in a pond (and thus, duck soup is a soup that naturally makes itself), but still, you'd think we would have heard about this before it reached the comic page.

And that's the mystery of duck soup.

Apollyon says re Duck Soup: I have a possible origin for you, although it's a bit of a stretch. "Gold dust soup" may have become "duck soup." The story goes (emphasis on story) that a kitchen owner in a gold rush took payment in gold dust which he measured with the same spoon that he stirred the soup with. The gold which stuck to the spoon was stirred back in. When he left the pot had a thick layer of gold on the bottom of it and thus he took home more gold than the miners using an easier method. Easy as dust soup.

And a little more from Tem42: It appears that pioneer children also played at making 'saw dust soup', mixing saw dust, water, dirt, rocks, and the like in a make believe soup. A very easy soup to make... Perhaps 'dust soup' morphed into 'duck soup'?