E. coli resides in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals but recent studies have shown that E. coli can persist and grow in various external environments including soil. The general stress response regulator, RpoS, helps E. coli overcome various stresses, however its role in soil survival was unknown. This soil survival assay protocol was developed and used to determine the role of the general stress response regulator, RpoS, in the survival of E. coli in soil. Using this soil survival assay, we demonstrated that RpoS was important for the survival of E. coli in soil. This protocol describes the development of the soil survival assay especially the recovery of E. coli inoculated into soil and can be adapted to allow further investigations into the survival of other bacteria in soil.