There's this belief in my family that leaving the ladle in the soup is bad, but nobody actually seem to know why it would be bad; it's really just a persistent piece of family lore. I never really cared one way or another, but it really started bugging me now that I've started cooking.

Is it just a myth? Or is it indeed harmful in any way to leave the ladle in the soup for any extended period of time? And if so, why? Food safety issues? Maybe outdated food safety issues from the times ladles weren't made of stainless steel? Or it's just seen as impolite?

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    If your family cannot justify their belief with sound reasoning, you should ignore it. It's probably just a belief and has no real reason to follow. Anyway, I consider even just using plastic ladles in hot food to be potentially harmful as the plastic could melt and leech chemicals. But steel ladles are fine. OTOH leaving any ladle or serving spoon outside the food vessel to be harmful if you will use it again to scoop the food. Because you are exposing the ladle with food stain to pests, house flies & dirty countertops, then scooping food with it. I don't know how some don't find it GROSS! – ADTC Apr 27 '17 at 12:50

Maybe because the ladle gets hot and could burn someone?

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If you had a plastic ladle, it may not be able to handle high-heat for an extended period of time.

If it were in contact with the bottom of the pot, it's possible that it would get above 100°C, and depending on the material, could soften. It probably wouldn't melt entirely, but it'd be shocking enough that you'd question if anything leached into the soup, and likely want to pitch the whole batch.

Most higher-end kitchen utensils these days are made from silicone, you're less likely to have the problem, unless you're buying discount utensils (eg, shopping at the dollar store, or the random kitchewares tent at some flea markets) or have older stuff (either inherited or from yard sales).

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If the ladle was made of aluminium (or aluminum, if you prefer), then it would be a bad idea to leave it in anything acidic, as it could contaminate the food with aluminium salts, which may (it's controversial) be implicated in Alzheimer's.

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While I agree with john2103 I would also add that if the soup is thickened with tapioca starch, the soup could un-thicken due to the possible moving ladle.

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    I have never come across a starch which un-thickens when stirred. Things like set gelatine might lose their texture, but not while hot. – rumtscho Oct 21 '14 at 20:56
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    Strangely this really only happens with tapioca starch. I never experienced this behavior with a roux with AP flour or potato starch. – Ching Chong Oct 22 '14 at 6:35
  • Concrete: (Vietnamese?) (mock) shark fin soup or sweet and sour sauce. My mother says that tapoica starch should be used, otherwise the soup will be cloudy. – Ching Chong Oct 22 '14 at 7:26

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