A chill is in the air, and it is the perfect time to prepare and serve hot and hearty soups. The aroma fills the kitchen and the steaming soup warms body and soul. I really enjoy looking through Paula’s cookbooks or going online and trying new varieties.
Soup can easily be hearty enough for a main course, and I thought it might be fun to explore soup as a course at a dinner party. The type of soup that you serve dictates the type of bowl and spoon served with it. Let’s start with a few of the basics of soup etiquette.
Bouillon, Consommés and Broths
These are all very similar because they are light and thin. Bouillon is a concentrated brown stock, and consommé is a clarified double-strength stock. A broth is a clear liquid usually from meat, fish or vegetables.
This cup with saucer is silver with a porcelain insert. It sets an elegant table and
is perfect for clear, light soups or even a small serving of a cream soup.
This covered bouillon and stand are from the same set as the cup and saucer. It belonged to an American family in the Northeast and was made by the Mauser Manufacturing Company at the turn of the century. I really like this covered bowl and have also used it for fruit salads and desserts.
Silver expert Michele Howe of Michele’s Antiques, located in Austin, Texas, and Beaver Creek, Colorado, recommends using the size of bowl that suits what you are serving. “If you are serving a soup course during an elegant meal,” she says, “then a smaller serving or lighter soup is perfect because it will not fill up your guests before the main course.” Howe also advises that your spoon should match your bowl. A hearty soup in a larger bowl requires a larger soupspoon or tablespoon; likewise, a smaller bouillon spoon would complement a small soup cup.
If a hostess serves you one of these clear soups in a two-handled cup, you may use the spoon or lift the cup and drink. Another option is to use the spoon to eat any solids and then pick up the cup to drink the broth. While many consider this proper, a survey conducted by the American Dairy Association Survey on soup etiquette showed that the majority of Americans prefer to use a spoon rather than sip their soup. This may be a good time to wait and watch the hostess!!
These soups are thickened with cream, butter or egg. Sometimes they may have a vegetable or shellfish base. Be sure to check out Paula’s recipes for cream soups like her crab soup and creamy squash soup.
At dinners and luncheons, a hostess may serve cream soup in a handled bowl with stand, a bowl with an underplate or a cream soup cup with plate. Once you pick up the spoon, you should rest it on the underplate between bites and when you are finished.
At most formal dinner parties, a hostess uses soup plates. A soup plate is a wide, shallow bowl with a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. It should always rest on an underplate. The spoon, which you will pick up on the right-hand side of the place setting, should be parked in the bowl between bites. The wide, shallow soup plate will hold it comfortably. In contrast, the two-handled cream soup bowl is too high and small to hold the spoon.
Soups such as chili, gumbo, chowder or beef stew are hearty enough to be stand-alone meals. These thick, chunky soups are usually served in a soup-cereal bowl. It should also be presented on an underplate. Soup-cereal bowls are usually narrower and deeper than soup plates. They are more casual and used at informal, everyday meals.
Winter is the perfect time to explore the soup options that are available. And what better place to look than on Paula’s website! She has some easy recipes that would be beautiful and delicious for company or your family.
As always, thanks for reading.
Happy New Year,
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