While it's easy to add more spice and heat to a recipe that's too bland or mild, turning down the heat once you've added too much is a bit more difficult. When it comes to soup, the problem of overspicing can be particularly problematic as spice in liquid form is difficult to eat around. Luckily, there are a number of reliable ways to reduce the heat in spicy soup and make the meal experience less painful.
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As soon as you discover that the soup is too spicy, you should start by performing a little damage control to keep the soup from getting any spicier. If there are any peppers, chilies or large flakes of red pepper that you can scoop out of the soup, do so; they'll continue to add more heat to the soup as they cook.
Next, remove the soup from the heat or turn down the temperature. The more it cooks, the more the spiciness will permeate, so the sooner you can stop the cooking and serve the soup, the better.
Fixing The Soup
If you'd like to make the soup less spicy, there are a few good ways to do this. The most surefire way, of course, is to add more of every other ingredient except the spice. This will reduce the overall saturation of spicy ingredients. A good way to do this is to mix a second, separate pot of soup (you can halve or even quarter the ingredients if you don't think you'll need to reduce the spice by fully half), then gradually mix in the unspiced soup until you get the level of flavor you want.
When this lengthy process isn't a possibility, you can reduce the heat in your soup by adding milk or cream, if it's appropriate to the recipe. Dairy products will lessen the effect of the heat within the soup. You can achieve a similar affect by adding par-boiled potatoes, since starches will do the same. For some soups, you might also add beer, since beer is grain based and essentially liquid bread.
How To Serve
If the soup is still a little spicy when you serve it, you can help counteract this problem with how you choose to serve it. Give diners plenty of bread and/or crackers to eat with their soup, as eating these will help control the heat. You can also serve the soup with milk or beer (the thicker and maltier, the better) as a beverage for the same reasons.
Serving the soup in smaller portions is another good way to help solve the spice problem. Spice lingers on the tongue, making large portions of spicy food more difficult to eat than smaller ones.