Saturday, February 3, 2024

Who doesn't love a collection -


Borne ceremoniously to the table, the soup tureen has always been a symbol of family warmth, and often a showpiece as well. To make a dramatic and grand impression, there was no other more suitable vessel than the soup tureen. 

I have to agree that a bowl of hearty homemade soup, or its thicker version more like a stew, is at the top of winter's list of soul-satisfying meals. Following a slow, aromatic cooking on the stove, it's always fun to consider your collection of serving pieces for a hot liquid offering. Tureens with lids are perfect and probably the way soups were kept hot when being brought from long-ago downstairs kitchens ~ such as the one we all loved in 'Downton Abbey' ~ to the gorgeous dining room above stairs.

Symbol of love and communion, soups have often celebrated the gathering of families, friends and kindred souls. Prior to the Renaissance (14th to the 17th centuries), people did not travel far from home and everything at the table was shared. Not only soup and bread, but bowl and spoon. When travel began, new and exotic foods were discovered, and by the 18th century choreographed dining feasts with a huge choice of dishes were served to impress guests. Often two or more tureens would be brought to the table allowing diners to choose a favorite to have ladled into their soup bowl.

Though the word "tureen" is probably derived from "terre", Old French for clay, some early examples were crafted from precious metals, even humble pewter. In the golden age of porcelain (from the mid-1700's to the late 1800's), when botany became a universal passion, florals, fruits, even vegetables were hand-painted on white, oyster and cream oval and round tureens.  

My personal collection of tureens take up most of the shelving on each side of the fireplace. I enjoy them displayed there with a few other items mixed in. Over the years I've added shapes and sizes, some antique, others vintage and a few even new. I'm still tempted when I spy others for sale, however realize I have nowhere to put them so leave them for other collectors who do.

Do you have a collection of special, much-loved items?  Are you still adding to it?

Winter Warmers
"Of soup and love, the first is best" : Anonymous



  1. I have one large blue and white tureen, much loved but now unused!

  2. I collected silver art for years, not for daily use by dirty children, but to display with pride. I selected vases, candle sticks, trays etc by maker, date and art school, but I was defeated in the end by price. The silver art went up in value while my salary did not.

  3. I don't have any soup tureens but I love your collection! Looks beautiful displayed on each side of your fireplace.

  4. I love the whiteness of those tureens, but I'd be thinking who's going to dust them all?? They would certainly make a statement when displayed full of soup on a dining table.

  5. The German word for tureen is Terrine, like the French word, with its terre/clay origin. I must admit that my soups and stews stay in the pot on the still warm stove, as we eat in the kitchen right next to it, and so it wouldn‘t make sense to transfer the soup into a tureen.
    But for gatherings at my Mum‘s, the nice china is on the table, including tureens filled with soup and/or veg, dumplings and so on, depending on what we are having.
    While I am not actively collecting anything, foxes in various shapes and sizes have steadily been making their way into my home, be it on mugs or (the latest addition) as a salt cellar from Yorkshire.

  6. Dear Mary, I adore your collection of tureens! And agree about soups as "soul-food", especially in winter. I have no collection of tureens - only the noble one of my Spode, and three others in simple white porcelain.
    Once my Husband made an exhibition about collectors (of many items - unbelievable what can be collected!) I think it is a question of space - but the hunting and discovering is as exciting - or more! - as the having.

  7. Dearest Mary,
    I'm not home right now, otherwise I could reference Campbell's book about Soup Tureens.
    A gift that I received early 1983 when visiting their museum.
    Yes, sharing soup with family and friends is a sure way of sharing 'warmth'.

  8. Your tureen's are gorgeous! I have one, but don't seem to use it often. You could guess my collection is teacups and teapots. With downsizing I need to get rid of some of them, but that will be very difficult to do.

  9. OK, the was me marilyn m. with the teacups and teapots. Ugh!

  10. Hello! Well, now I have a problem. Your post inspired me to make a huge pot of soup today. And my tureen which I've had for decades is nowhere to be found. I am going to make the soup, purchase a new tureen (darn it) because I gifted my antique to my granddaughter three years ago ... or so she says. Off to the antique store close by.

  11. You have a beautiful collection of tureens, Mary. I have just one, not vintage, but given to me by my mom quite a few years ago. It has a bit of crazing so I'm careful with it. More often than not, I ladle soup from the pot on the stove into individual bowls.
    Soup is something I eat almost every day. There are so many wonderful recipes, and making soup is a creative act in the kitchen for certain, depending upon what's in the fridge and the pantry.
    A lovely post. By the way, I made the roasted halloumi and vegetable dish again - with butternut squash this time. It's so delicious! I think of you when I prepare it.

  12. Making the halloumi dish for supper today! Perhaps the heat from the spices will cure my cold!!!!!


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