Wednesday, August 12, 2015

For the Price of a Bowl of Soup

"For the price of a bowl of soup I bought today at an old bookshop

a volume to me infinitely valuable--

a boon, a prize, a priceless possession.

All the way home on the train I read it:

I was enlarged, I acquired merit, I added to my life."

 David Grayson in The Countryman's Year

Have you ever felt that way about a book?

This old 1943 book, Richardson Wright's The Bed-Book of Eating and Drinking, found "for the price of a bowl of soup," has been a real treasure to me. In it he does for the table what he did for the garden in his classic The Gardener's Bed-Book.

This old first edition, while missing its dustjacket, is full of helpful tidbits from the longtime Editor in chief of House and Garden. And all from a man's viewpoint, or at least from the viewpoint of a man of his time. I honestly can't see R.H. caring whether his soup is served from a soup tureen or not, but Mr. Wright surely cared.


"Now the purpose of using a tureen at table,

apart from displaying a charming vessel, is to keep the soup hot...

Further, I believe that the soup should be a surprise,

the kind to come shouldn't be announced beforehand."
Richardson Wright

Do any of you have a soup tureen? Do you use it? I would love to have one like the Spode's Pink Tower above, or in any of the Spode patterns that I collect but wonder if I would actually use it.

 I like what Mr. Wright says about keeping the soup a surprise. Sometimes we give away all the fun of a meal by telling what's for supper, when it would be more dramatic to bring a soup tureen to the table and lift the lid. 

I'm not sure I would even have room for a soup tureen so I'll continue to use my favorite Le Cruset soup pot to serve from. 

We all have favorite chicken soup recipes so I won't put mine here but I do have a new favorite ingredient. Five minutes before serving the soup I stir in chopped baby bok choy. It is so much better than the large bok choy in soup.

I served mine with finely cut basil in two Mikasa "Chelsea Vine" bowls found at Goodwill. The placemats and napkins are from there too. 

This soup started off the night before as Roast Chicken, Pat Conroy's recipe--found HERE 
at my old blog--except that this time I included Richardson Wright's suggestion:

"Before you tuck away a chicken to roast,
rub it with this mixture:
1/2 powdered ginger and 1/4 mustard and 1/4 salt.
Things happen to that chicken's flavor."

I assumed he meant teaspoons here and dry mustard and it very definitely added to the flavor and color of the chicken.

I always save the leftover skin and bones and scraps to make broth the next morning, which is the basis of several different kinds of chicken soup the next day with the leftover chicken added. 

Maybe someday I'll find a soup tureen at Goodwill with my name on it. Meanwhile I always find other hidden treasures in the book aisle. Choose the sticker of the day color and their books are half price. 

"For the price of a bowl of soup" you might find a book to read or to read to someone else that is priceless.

Even magical?


  1. Love the little fairy with the wand. LOL. That book must be interesting. I do not have a tureen. But I may have to look for one now. Blessings Dewena.xoxo,Susie

  2. I am SO lazy! When I want soup, I go to Panera's, or Claim Jumpers. Their soups are amazing. :)

    So no, I wouldn't use a soup toureen myself, at least not for soup. For chili, maybe. ;)

  3. I'm with you I save my chicken bones and skin, I put t hem in freezer bags until I get 6-7 pounds and then I make a big batch of chicken stock. I make roasted chicken often and will try the seasoning on top! I love using my soup tureen's and always helps to make a dinner special!

  4. Dewena, that video is just so precious!!! The soup looks delicious, even though I don't eat chicken soup, the the hubster loves it! So I may get the recipe from you if you don't mind. My priceless treasure book is one I read as a child, Judy's Journey. It's about poor, country farmer folk and their travels across the south. I never forgot that book and when I ran across a copy of it a few years ago, I snatched it up.

  5. The video was such a treat! I don't have a soup tureen. It does seem so elegant, though. I have felt that way about several books -- one is a big, fat cookbook with recipes from Bed and Breakfasts around the country. Doesn't matter if I don't make the recipes, I just love looking through it.

  6. OH! eleven seconds just isn't long enough. MORE!
    what a tiny little fairy ballerina perfectly bashing papa's head with her wand! LOL!!! she is so adorable.
    i don't own a tureen. but i can smell those wonderful soups of yours from here.
    my own older treasured books are ... of course. gladys taber's.
    especially the one my mother had the marine buy for me ...her last christmas.
    they're worn because i've read them so much. i never tire of them.
    the seasons... the special joys each brings.
    and benita stopped by the peanut!
    it took me a minute to realize who she was!! i love blogland.
    now if i can just keep my stamina with it!
    it's late here. just stopping by before shut-eye. good night dsm! ♥

  7. What a cute little fairy ! :)
    No soup tureen here though I remember being tempted by a large ironstone one at the thrift store a year or so ago. I like his idea of the surprise : )

  8. Your little fairy princess is adorable! I don't have a tureen; where would I store it? I am getting more practical in my later years. LOL. I just dish soup from the stove and carry it to the table, not very elegant.

  9. I have a children's sewing book that was my grandmother's. It's my little treasure book. And I have two soup tureens! and have never used them. But we do love soup, and this post has inspired me. One is a lovely piece that is part of a set of Haviland china. I even have soup bowls for it. It still remains packed up in boxes (we only moved 18 months ago!) Well, Dewena, I know what I'm doing this weekend! Thank you for the lovely post:)

  10. These look like good books. Everything and nothing has changed! I have a soup tureen I have never used. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I bought it. I'm the sort who just ladles it straight from the pot at the stove. Love my red le Creuset, too! I need to make some broth--it's almost 'soup weather'!

    Jane x

  11. Darling little fairy there.
    I like my soup hot, right from a pot. Does a tureen keep it warm enough I wonder? They certainly are beautiful.
    And a good book is worth missing a meal/bowl of soup for!

  12. Oh my goodness is she adorable! Annie used to love wearing her princess and fairy costumes. Sometimes, even out to dinner, but I couldn't say no to that little one ;)

    Of all the china that was passed down to me, a soup tureen wasn't included. Isn't that odd? Maybe great grandma Annie Belle didn't like soup lol

    All my books are precious to me, especially the old ones.


  13. I have a soup tureen and use it very seldom. It's not as pretty as the Spode one, but plain white. Unfortunately, it doesn't keep the soup very hot, so I prefer to serve soup from the stove. I use my tureen for flower arrangements!
    Like you, bones and skin are saved and used for chicken broth around here, too. Roasted chicken scraps make the best soup!

  14. Dewena, I'm sure that whatever you decide to serve your scrumptious soups in, they always taste gourmet great! Being directly ladled from your favourite evergreen Le Creuset pot to that lovely, ivy rimmed bowl, they don't stay a secret for long, for they are enjoyed steaming hot! The baby bok choy is a perfect complement, adding a tasty texture to the savoury silkiness of the broth. Can smell it from here!

    I still have my very first cookbook, one I bought with my first wages, that a store-to-store, (what I call the mall's version of door-to-door), salesman was pitching one day. It introduced me to dumplings, snickerdoodles, and meringue, all very intriguing to a 16 year old girl, who grew up on stuffed grape leaves, tzatziki, and baklava! Go figure!

    That petite and pretty fairy, with her wavy wand, almost had me there for a sec - it's a wonder R.H. still has that lovely reading voice! Ribbit!


  15. Your soup and roasted chicken looks delicious, Dewena. The Chelsea Vine bowls are pretty too. What a sweet picture of the pink little fairy. Her face is precious. Yes, I've felt this way about books. I have a selection of children's books that I used to read to the kids, and I can never let them go.

    Have a delightful Friday, Dewena.

    love, ~Sheri

  16. I wish I did have a soup tureen but I have never had one. I think they make the presentation of soup so much more elegant. I am afraid at this age I don't make soup much any more... just go to Panera Bread and buy mine!

  17. We have a beautiful tureen, given to us by a son and daughter-in-law. We have never used it, for soup. Simply as a lovely centerpiece. :-)

    Oh what an adorable "Pink Faerie"!!! And her Granddad! Oh this photo should be enlarged and printed and framed. Really, it should!!!!!!


  18. Before I sold my house and now have downsized I LOVED finding old books in the thrift stores. I got rid of all the childrens books (sigh) ...but I did keep most of the cookbooks which oddly enough I don't enjoy cooking but I love cookbooks. I really enjoyed your post and photos. That soup looks delicious.

  19. Sweet as can be. Oh my, I just love that fairy and the storyteller. xx oo

    Our family loves soup :-)

  20. Your soup looks so pretty and appetizing the way you have it presented - without a soup tureen. I don't own one - I serve it up hot usually off the back of the wood stove. I love books - my bible is my favourite. It lights my way up....I think the anticipation that comes with books either in the reading or the finding is what you have put it into words in this post. Wonderful!

  21. I make so many homemade soups in the fall and winter, but no, I don't have a soup tureen. I just make it and serve it from a big pot on the stove. Your roasted chicken sounds so good...and isn't it wonderful to be able to use leftovers to make broth and soup? Nourishing and economical all at the same time. I certainly love books, too...I have hundreds of them! Your little fairy princess sure is adorable!

  22. Perfect meal. We love soups in the fall and winter. The roasted chicken is always a welcome dish around here. I do have several soup tureens. Happy weekend.

  23. Such a precious little princess, I know that your heart overflows on days spent with her. Soup oh yes! Love soup and we eat it heartily most of the year except July and August as the heat is so severe. Soup Tureen-Yes I do, and I have never used it!
    Happy Saturday, Dear Dewena,

  24. Used to have a soup tureen, but gave it away. Now I want one. :)
    That fairy is simply precious.
    I stopped by earlier this week but comment would not go through due to no google plus anymore. Hope this works.
    Always heavenly visiting with you, Dewena...feels so like home.

  25. I feel like I missed out on not being able to see that video. It is a little after 4, and I'm in the rv sitting next to the boys sleeping. I have insomnia and fear if if I watch it it might wake them. She does indeed look precious though!

    I used to have a soup tureen or two, but they are soooooo impractical, and being a Capricorn with Taurus rising I'm afraid that's something I don't tolerate ; )..

  26. I did not know you had fairies at your house now :-)

  27. I HAVE felt that way about a book before! And how magical to be reading some for the very first time. And yes I have a soup tureen that I've never used. I'll have to give that some thought. Enjoy your day and thanks for a delightful post. Hugs, Diane

  28. There are some books I feel so strongly about, I read, read, read them every year...Wind in the Ash Tree...really all her books, Alexandra Stoddard's books and a few others. Good books are a balm in Gilead.