A soup ladle is a specialized spoon which is designed for serving soups, gravies, punches, and other liquids. Ladles can also be used for stirring and in food preparation. Most kitchen supply stores stock these specialty spoons, with a number of different styles available. Having a soup ladle around the house can be quite useful, as these deep spoons make great utility tools in the kitchen.
Two characteristics set the soup ladle apart from other spoons. The first is the deep bowl, which is designed to accommodate a large amount of liquid. Some ladles are also designed for measuring, and they may have markings which indicate volume for the convenience of the cook. Ladles also have very long handles, so that they can be dipped into stock pots and deep serving dishes. Some ladles have notches in their bowls to make it easier to control the flow of liquids, which can be especially useful for thin stocks and juices.
In some cases, the bowl of a soup ladle juts out at a right angle, with the ladle being dipped straight down and lifted straight up for use. Other ladles may have offset handles for angled use, and it can be useful to keep both types around. Many also have hooks or curls at the end of the handle so that the ladle can be latched onto the edge of a pot or serving bowl without falling off. These hooks can also be used to hang a ladle for storage.
Metal is a common material for basic ladles, but it is also possible to find wooden, plastic, silicone, and ceramic ladles. Ladles for food service at the table are often designed to be decorative as well as functional, with stamped or painted patterns. For people who like to coordinate their silver, it is possible to find ladles which match existing patterns, as well as companies which will fabricate a ladle which matches a particular silver pattern.
In addition to being used to describe a kitchen implement, the word “ladle” is also a verb, used to describe the action of serving liquids with a ladle. For those who are curious about word origins, the word “ladle” comes from the Old English hladen, which means “to draw out.” This word is sometimes misspelled as “ladel.”