Monday, April 19, 2010

Tureens, they’re not just for dinner anymore.



michael smith pc grey crawford

photo credit:  Grey Crawford


kitchen-cabinet-0406_xlg mallory marshal pc laura moss

photo credit:  laura moss




I don’t think anyone would disagree that soup tureens (or if you prefer, soupières) can be equally attractive serving a delicate soup or as part of a collection in an open display (Thankfully!  As they can be difficult to store in your run of the mill kitchen cabinet).  But, as I am especially fond of finding ways to make use of those typically less-often-used  items, here are a few ideas for making a lovely tureen do double duty….



A floral arrangement is always a perfect fit for an old tureen.




At it’s best when the arrangement and selection of the flowers reflect the style of the tureen.  A frog or floral tape will help make the job of arranging easier in wide mouth vessels such as these.



pomegranites, quince and apples in a pewter tureen Pedro de Camprobín

Why not create your own still life with some fruit from the market and a few leafy stems off of a tree or shrub in your yard?




My pewter tureen with flowers from my garden.




A  longer-lived alternative to a floral centerpiece, coordinate the fruits you use to the scheme of your table setting—imagine an old pewter tureen heaped with figs or plums and grapes and maybe some baby purple artichokes for an autumn table.  Or place orange, green and yellow citrus dotted with tiny white flowers in white ironstone in the summer.



SCA160389034  01

Try piling your tureen high with fresh berries in season.  Strawberries are just coming into season here and we have many local farm stands where you can buy the tastiest fruits in large quantities—I predict that I’ll be tasting testing this idea out soon.  I recently read that someone used her tureen in the summer to serve watermelon balls marinated in port wine-yum!




I often come across bowls that have lost their lids.  If they are a nice shape, I bring them home in spite of their missing parts.  I very frequently put live plants in old tureens such as this-usually indoors, but this old pot looks great outside.  A small round tureen makes a pretty container for potted herbs in a sunny kitchen window.



During the winter holidays, fill a tureen with poinsettia or amaryllis.  Fresh cedar and pine branches with white candles and mercury glass bulbs would be a festive alternative.




Last winter, I attempted to force some paperwhites in an old tureen, but I must have gotten a bad batch of bulbs because they just rotted.  This was the look I was going for.  (I won’t show you what I got.)  




A profusion of hyacinths on an antique console are doubled in abundance by the placement of a mirror behind.  A tureen is a perfect container for forcing bulbs. 




Why not place one on your kitchen table to hold cloth napkins?




A tureen would make a great ice bucket, wine cooler or cookie jar.  You might even use one to store all of those attachments for the mixer & food processor.



bread proofing

Or, for the bakers among us (not me, by the way), try using one as the “covered bowl” recommended for proofing dough.




Easter basket, mom-style.




Instead of flowers, this tureen could be holding wooden spoons and other cooking utensils next to the cooktop.



 dog biscuits

Use one for storing dog biscuits.


Puppies in a Soup Tureen

Or puppies!  (too cute)

Actually, one of my favorite uses for a lidless tureen is as a dog water bowl for Bennett—so much more attractive than a stainless bowl. 


Here are a few more ideas off of the top of my head….


  • Use a big ironstone tureen for serving salad (green or pasta).
  • Offer popcorn or chips from a shallow-bowled tureen at your next game-day party.
  • Or, for 4th of July, make homemade ice cream and serve it from a blue and white transferware tureen.
  • Keep your tea stash in it.
  • Use one on the counter for storing potatoes or onions or garlic.
  • Fill one full of rolled washcloths or soaps and sea sponges to leave on the bathroom vanity.
  • Nothing beats natural accessories; white ironstone looks great filled with seashells or pinecones.
  • Fill with water and float candles and flowers in one for a romantic centerpiece.
  • For holiday parties, instead of a punch bowl, use a tureen for egg nog, punch, spiced cider, mulled wine or whatever your poison.


At last count, I think I have about ten large-ish white ironstone tureens—of those, only a few are pretty good old pieces complete with underplates and ladles that I reserve for display only.  I just recently found that old pewter tureen who’s squatty shape reminds me of a Cinderella pumpkin.  The remainder are just pieces that I’ve picked up here and there that I love to use and abuse for different purposes such as those I’ve listed above.  Hmmm, now I’m thinking that I might need to add some Staffordshire pieces to the collection as well….

Do you have any interesting ways you like to use a tureen?  I’d love to hear your ideas!


  1. Beautiful post Suzanne. My favorite is the butterfly tureen with the peonies. I also loved your arrangement; it is gorgeous!

  2. Thank you Anon! I can't wait for Autumn so that I can really put that pewter tureen to work!

  3. What an awesome post! I have a vintage tureen to list in my Etsy shop and I was looking for a little inspiration in how to describe it. I certainly found that inspiration here. Thank you.


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