Spoons used at the table are designed for specific purposes, set out on an as-needed basis. If soup is part of your meal, for example, the place setting may include a soup spoon and a dinner spoon. Soup spoons and dinner spoons differ in their bowl shapes and depths.
Soup Spoon Variations
Soup spoons have round bowls that are usually deeper than the bowls of other spoons. The entire spoon measures between five and seven inches long. Bouillon spoons, the smallest variety of soup spoons, are used to sip clear, thin broth. Cream soup spoons are slightly larger and accompany cream-based soups, such as lobster bisque. Gumbo spoons are the largest kind of soup spoon and are deep enough to hold the meats and vegetables served in chunky soups. Shorter Oriental soup spoons have deep bowls and flat bottoms.
Dinner Spoon Basics
Dinner spoons can be either teaspoons or tablespoons, between 5-3/4 and 6-1/4 inches long, and feature a shallow, oval-shaped bowl. The dinner spoon is a multipurpose piece. Diners may use a tablespoon to help them twirl long strands of pasta around a fork, for example. In most households, the teaspoon has replaced the dessert spoon, which has a longer stem and a more elongated bowl, as the spoon of choice for ice cream and other soft desserts, as well as for coffee. Formal restaurants usually provide a teaspoon to stir coffee and either a tablespoon or a dessert spoon for a dessert, depending on its type.
Everyday soup spoons and dinner spoons, like other flatware, are usually made of stainless steel. More expensive formal flatware is made of silver or silver-plated metal. Sets of disposable plastic flatware usually contain dinner spoons, although plastic dinner spoon bowls are not usually as large as standard dinner spoon bowls. Oriental soup spoons are usually porcelain or ceramic.
Place utensils from the outside in based on the order in which they are needed. If soup is the first course of the meal, for example, place the soup spoon to the right of the knife, on the right side of the place setting. Place the dinner spoon to the left of the soup spoon, since it will be used after the soup spoon. Some hosts prefer to bring out the proper spoon with the course it accompanies, so you may serve your guests bowls of soup with soup spoons resting on the plate underneath the bowl or bring out dinner spoons when you serve coffee or ice cream.