It was with my grandmother Dottie in Greenwich and the afternoons spent watching Julia Child that I first began to cultivate my love both for cooking and collecting. There was always something so joyous about her food, especially when served in one of my grandmother's pierced creamware platters or antique porcelain dishes. This piece, an old ironstone soup tureen, is one of my prized because it was hers.
These days, to find such an old piece, still with all four of its parts—charger plate, tourine bowl, lid and ladle—is rare. The stamp on the charger reads T & R Boote, a manufacturer of pottery that began in Burslem, a small farming hamlet in England, in 1842.
I use black and cream transferware all year long, but I especially love it for the fall. This piece would be perfect for serving a cold cucumber soup, a Vichyssoise or a chilled orange borscht. Then, come autumn (and it will!), I love it for roasted butternut squash soup or, a favorite at my grandmother's table, Curried Onion Soup from Julia Child.
For the velouté soup base (a classic French soup base with chicken stock), tenderly simmer 4 cups sliced onions with 4 tablespoons butter over moderately low heat. Cover and cook slowly until the onions are transparent. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder and flour to thicken, then stir slowly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and, when bubbling stops, pour in 1 cup of hot chicken stock all at once, whisk vigorously until smooth, then whisk in 6 more cups. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. For a garnish, my grandmother preferred a dollop of crème fraîche, though sour cream works beautifully as well.