While the soup party was a smashing success, I was super conscious of the fact that my delicious “chi’ken” tortilla, “Chi’ken and Dumplings, Dal, and Italian Butternut Squash/Sweet Potato soups were being served out of pots rather than beautiful serving dishes. Less than five days before the party, I was in Nordstrom’s with a gift card from one of my students hell bent on finding “one of those decorative, ceramic, thingees that you serve soup out of. . .that keeps it warm.” A stranger turned around and said, “Oh, you mean a soup tureen.” Nordstrom’s did not have an official kitchen wares department, let along a tureen, but at least I left there with the official name of the dish I was looking for, a dish that I later learned was used to serve soups and stews to royalty and functioned as centerpieces on the elaborate dinner tables of Kings.
Away I went in search of Soup Tureens. Seeing as though I served four soups at my first soup party, I decided that I needed at least four of these soup dishes. I went to Macy’s Department Store only to find a small, rather plain, but quite expensive one. These factors apart, I decided against this tureen because it had a heating element underneath, and, I hate cooking my food to death. I chose instead to continue my search rather than purchase this small tureen that would require refilling several times in the course of a soup party.
Next stop, Sur La Table, a cook’s heaven, where I found a beautiful, white, ceramic tureen with little lions or something like that etched in the handles. This one came with a matching ladle and was discounted 20%, which brought the price to about $32. I wanted to continue my search; surely I could find one cheaper. I crossed the street, headed for the T. J. Maxx where I hoped to find a tureen for even less but to no avail. I crossed the street in the other direction for Williams and Sonoma, a cook’s other heaven, where I found the same exact tureen that I just looked at in Sur La Table, but this time for $129. I don’t have a lot of experience even looking around Williams and Sonoma, but all of a sudden I see “What’s in a name.” I got the brilliant idea to check Target and even Walmart. I started with the websites where I was certain I’d find plain white, ceramic tureens for significantly less. Boy, was I surprised to find them for $40 at Target and about the same at Walmart, where all of the tureen’s were in the form of NFL football helmets. Not quite the look I’m going for. . .
Then I came up with my most brilliant idea yet, search thrift stores and Craigslist!! On New Year’s Eve, I finally donated those bags of clothes that had been gathered in our home for months to Village Thrift Store in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a store whose incredible prices, quality merchandise and organization make it a bargain hunter’s dream. And what did I find? A soup tureen of the first order, one with a platter, an antique feel and flowers that appear to be hand-painted. Though the ladle was missing, I was thrilled to purchase my first tureen for just $10. I figure I can find a ladle later.
Next stop, Washington, DC Craigslist, where I found two unique tureens, one for $15 and the other for $20. Wow! The $15 tureen is a huge one from Portugal, never-before-used, a wedding gift worth over $100. After viewing my website and having warm exchanges with me over the phone, the owner was so moved by the fact that her tureen with hand painted blue flowers and blue trim would be put to great use, that she held it for me for several days. After all, my school was located much closer to her home than my actual house. I forgot to mention, too, the snow storm that DC and the surrounding area was still recovering from.
Of course, almost everyone I’ve spoken to since just before the soup party knows that I am on the hunt for soup tureens, and so it is with my sister in Atlanta, who took it upon herself to search Atlanta’s Craiglist where she found a beautiful black tureen with a brightly colored squash and cob of corn on it and a ladle to match. I contacted the owner whom my sister later met and purchased the tureen for $15. I can’t wait to have it in my kitchen!!
My last discovery was an intricately designed off-white tureen with matching ladle that I also found on DC’s craigslist. The owner lives almost 45 minutes away, but we plan to meet mid-way to exchange $20 for this thing of beauty.
So in less than two weeks of commencing my search, I have found four soup tureens. With the purchase of a couple of ladles, I’ll be so ready for my next soup party. Will it be a Souper Bowl Party or, like the first one, Vita’s Soups DuJour on a random Sunday afternoon before the Spring? Either way the presentation will be stepped up a notch and the soup will likely be even more delicious.