Archive for the ‘soup wrapup’ Category

Summer soup: It’s a hit

July 7, 2011

Last night’s Summer Soup & Bread Spectacular was just that. Spectacular weather, spectacular turnout, spectacular, delicious, colorful, cold soups.

Thanks so very much to Nightwood, City Provisions, Big Star, Swim Cafe, Milk & Honey, Celestial Kitchens, Tre Kronor, Mana Food Bar, Guerrilla Smiles Catering, Inspiration Kitchens, Graham Elliot, and the lovely Anastasia for all their contributions. Thanks as well to Bonnie Tawse, Sheila Sachs, Laura Park, and Sarah Dandelles for doing ladle duty. And to Michael Slaboch for DJing (and soup wrangling). And to La Farine for so much delicious bread.

And of course, many, many thanks to all who came out to show their support. We shattered all previous S&B fundraising records last night, generating a whopping $2684 on behalf of the Garfield Park Conservatory. That won’t buy them a new roof, but it might buy a couple panes of glass, right? At least a half-dozen Conservatory staff were in attendance and they were very grateful for such a joyful end to what has been just an all-around terrible week.



And so, again, the end

April 20, 2011

I’ve had a hard time, this past week, to find the juice to recap our final Soup & Bread of the 2011 Soup Season. I may be in denial. Can it really all be over again, already? (The craptastic, if soup-suitable, winter storms of the last few days haven’t helped.) But, finally, I busted out my camera and zipped the photos from last Wednesday into my laptop. I now share them, for the public good.

My first stop on last Wednesday’s soup circuit involved neither soup, nor bread, but pie. Hoosier Mama pie, to be precise. Above, the lovely Rae Hill helps load up the Jeep with box after box of apple, sugar cream, and chocolate chess pies. Thank you Rae!

Next stop, just down the street, was La Farine, stalwart and generous donors of loaf upon loaf of crusty ciabatta and other breadstuffs all winter long. Many many thanks to Michelle, Rida, and the whole crew for their ongoing support.

And then: the Hideout!

It was, as I mentioned, our third annual, now-traditional end-of-the-line Soup & Pie night, with pies wrangled from all manner of contributors by the scrumptious Sheila Sachs. Here’s just one specimen, from overachieving Sarah Gardiner, who did double duty last week as both baker and DJ. Sarah got bumped from her DJ slot by the Great Blizzard of Early February, so DJ Mike “Treetop Lover” Bulington invited her to share the booth with him last week. They brought the deep cuts, and I think Bulington may have landed himself a sweet freelance gig as a result to boot. Thanks Mike and Sarah!

Of course, some participants refused to be bound by the strict genre rules of Soup & Bread & Pie. Witness, above, the outside-the-pie-box brilliance of Swim Cafe‘s PBR cupcakes. Which I loved all the more because Bonnie saw them and read not as “PBR” but “bloodshot eyeball cupcake.” Or, as Anastasia said, “put a plaid shirt on one and you’ve got the hipster trifecta at Pitchfork.”

Regardless of your feelings about cheap beer and its place in pastry, many thanks are also due to everyone at Swim for their ongoing support of Soup & Bread. Not only did Karen Gerod bring the cafe’s fab artichoke, leek, and pea soup this week, but over the last three months I’ve relied on Swim staffers Dianna Ryan and Ellyn Biko for help with S&B set up. They have wrangled more than enough folding chairs and sliced their share of bread this winter, and I salute them. Thanks Swim team!

And, of course, there was soup. So much soup. Above, Paul Kahan grates a mess of fresh Parmesan into a hearty pot of ribollita. I was bugging him for his thoughts on soup that night (as I’m working out some currently incoherent thoughts on the ways soup can inspire cooks) and after prodding him he finally confessed that for all the showstopping technique on display at Blackbird — where, for example, a recent soup featured sumac falafel, pickled Asian pears, and caramelized egg yolk —  he’d really rather be eating peasant food like this. It was really, really good. And, kudos to the chefs for leaving behind the rest of their grilled bread, which made an excellent late-night snack.

And it was chefs, plural, behind the ribollita — Kahan gives all the credit for its execution to Publican chef de cuisine Brian Huston, on the left there, with the PBR. On their right are Soup & Bread newbies Rob and Allie Levitt, formerly of Mado, currently of the Butcher and Larder. They brought a devastating Scotch Broth, and I’m going to pester Rob relentlessly until he gives up the recipe.  He did provide a verbal rundown on his stock secret. In a word: Sugo. Popularized by Paul Bertolli in his primer Cooking By Hand, sugo is a method of extracting intense, concentrated flavor from bones and juices and those bottom of the pan scrapings that might foolishly get thrown away.

To make the explosively rich stock for the Scotch Broth (above), he said, “You roast the bones, and then cover them with water and cook it and skim it and reduce it down until it’s super concentrated from, say two gallons to one quart of liquid. Then you add water and reduce it  again, over and over again, across a period of weeks.” By the end he had two quarts of lamb stock that was so concentrated “it looked like a superball  — it was like caramel when you heated it up.” Beyond that, though, I am desperately seeking further instruction. Stand by.

Elsewhere on the soup line we had a mulligatawny soup from Marie Marasovich, a spicy fish soup from Susannah Kite Strang, and a classic split pea with oodles of ham from Annie Coleman. Sadly for me, but good for the rest of you, I only got to taste that last one. The others were gone before I could get my bowl in line. But all told it was an excellent night, full of these serendipitously weird intersections of scenes and relationships that run amok at Soup & Bread. I’m sure we’re not unique in this — but I’d like to think it’s something in the soup. And, did I mention we raised somewhere in the vicinity of $500 for the Common Pantry?

And then, it was time to pack up the crock pots and go home. It’s sad to see it end, of course — it’s going to be really quiet behind the bar today — but there’s plenty more to keep us busy until soup season rolls around again. For one, we are putting the finishing touches on the new revised and expanded and spiffed-up Soup & Bread Cookbook, due out in November from Agate Publishing.* And don’t worry there’ll be a whole lot more on that down the road.

Until then, though, heartfelt thanks to the Hideout — in particular owners Tim, Katie, Mike, and Jim, and the awesome Wednesday crew, early and late, of Ryan, Brandy, Nick, Jennifer, Ben, Andrea, and Mitch — for all their help and support. And thanks to Ariel Bolles for gamely staffing our merch table, to Bonnie Tawse for wrangling recipes, to Laura Fox for all her organizational help, and to everyone who has ever cooked soup, baked bread, crusted a pie, lent us an iPod, and donated time, money, and good cheer to this preposterous little project. You are all Soup & Bread; without you we’d just be playing Scrabble alone in an empty pub.

*And don’t forget about our ongoing Soupscription program! Get in on the limited-edition recipe action now, and get a jump on your neighbors.

White Bean and Smoked Sausage Soup

April 17, 2011

From James Sapyta
Makes 3 quarts, enough for 2 batches of finished soup

Oh my gosh I am so very behind getting these recipes out – this one is from March 23! Luckily, it’s still soup weather here in Chicago, so there’s still time to dig into this hearty concoction. James borrowed the recipe from Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Family Table.


For the beans:

1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) dry cannellini or other small dried white beans, soaked overnight or quick soaked
4 quarts cold water, plus more if needed
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed

For the garlicky soffritto:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 big garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

For the finished soup, 1,2, or all of the following:

1 pound smoked sausage, choppped up
1/2 pound trimmed chicory or endive
2 small zucchinis, cut into matchsticks

Drain the soaked beans and put them in the pot with the water, bay leaves, and olive oil. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat stirring occasionally. When the water is at a full boil, set the cover ajar, adjust the heat to maintain a steady gentle boil, and cook for an hour more, until the beans are tender.

Stir in the salt, uncover, and continue cooking at a bubbling boil for another hour or more, until the beans and broth have reduced to 3 quarts. Lower the heat as the liquid evapoates and the soup base thickens, stirring now and then to prevent scorching.

When the soup base is sufficiently reduced, make the soffritto.  Heat the olive oil and the sliced garlic in a skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes or so, shaking the pan now and then, until the slices are sizzling.  Drop in the red pepper flakes, stir with the garlic, and cook another minute, or until the garlic is just starting to color.

From the soup pot, ladle out a cup of the simmering bean broth and pour it into the skillet.  Let it sizzle and start to boil, shake and stir up the soffritto, and cook it for a couple of minutes in the broth.  Then pour it all back into the bean pot, scraping in every bit of the soffritto, or just rinse the skillet out with more broth.  Simmer the soup base for another 5 minutes with the soffritto, then remove from the heat.

The base is ready for a finished soup now, or you can let the whole pot cool, pick out the bay leaves, and keep the soup refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or freeze, in filled and tightly sealed containers, for 4 to 6 monthes.

To complete the soup add smoked sausage and heat through. Or, add 1/2 pound trimmed chicory or endive chopped in 2-3 inch pieces. Cook covered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the leaves are tender and wilted. You can also add two small zucchinis, cut in matchsticks (about 3 cups), if you like.

Sincerely yours, Soup & Bread

March 25, 2011

People talk a lot about “community building,” but in the case of Soup & Bread, I think what we’re up to could better be called “community revealing.” Building implies a master plan — a certain top-down intentionality. But on soup nights like the one this past Wednesday what happens in the back room of the Hideout is nothing more structured than the spontaneous illumination of pre-existing relationships whose true detail had been perhaps in shadow until the light of soup was shone upon them.

In that room there was a gardener who ran the program at the school where the parents’ children grew peppers. She was working on a new project with the editor, who was friendly with the social worker, who knew my friend the mom, who brought her friend the musician, who brought bread to donate to the table. The writer was working on a project with the editor, who lived up the street from the gardener, and used to work with the other writer, who was pals with the restaurateur, who had hired the bartender (the other bartender) to paint his shop. And, well, you get the gist. It was all very six-degrees-of-soup-separation.

It feels silly sometimes, writing about soup week after week.  Doubly so lately, because when not trying to find new ways to describe something that’s both very simple and yet, like all good communities, can be much more than the sum of its parts, I’m finishing up work on the new edition of the Soup & Bread Cookbook. A girl can only handle so many labored soup metaphors in a day.

But nights like this one make it not seem so silly after all. I often don’t get to experience Soup & Bread in the moment: there are drinks to be made, and ladles to be washed, and bread to be cut, and when it’s all over I just sit there and think, “Did that just really happen?” (My consistently terrible photo documentation doesn’t help, though I take some pride in being responsible for possibly the blurriest photos on the internet.) But this was really something, and even I could see that.

To a backdrop of tunes spun by Sound Opinions producers Robin Linn and Jason Saldanha, we had a densely complicated oden from Mike Sula, who came in disguise, and Elizabeth Gomez (above), who was in Japan most of last month and flew home from Tokyo the day after the earthquake. We had refreshing tomato, basil, and white bean soup from Laura Fox and her mother, Monica. Laura’s been helping me wrangle recipes for the cookbook for the last few months, and without her I would be lost. And we had a hearty white bean and smoked sausage soup from James Sapytka, who is a standup guy and friends with our equally standup, if elusive, door guy Al.

We had savory roasted onion soup from Sarah Steedman, and roasted beet soup from Cleetus Friedman, above in the apron — beet soup that had the ability to send a seven-year-old boy back for thirds. (A million thanks also to Cleetus for the sandwich, which I desperately needed later on.) We had ramen from Hugh Amano, next to Cleetus, whose support of Soup & Bread is only equalled by his superlative soup-making skills.

And we had not one but two soups — a tangy Pakistani chicken soup and a zesty Haitian “Independence Day” soup full of butternut squash — brought by the ladies from the Marjorie Kovler Center for Treatment of Survivors of Torture at the Heartland Alliance, the beneficiary of this weeks’ soup donations. We (by which I mean “you”) raised $570 on their behalf, and as staffer Mary Black wrote me later, “Most of the clients who come to Kovler are political asylum applicants who live without work authorization or access to government subsidies (such as a Link card) until they are granted asylum — this can take years! So having access to healthy food is primary, as you can imagine. $570 is a tremendous help!”

There are just three weeks left of Soup & Bread this year, and we’ve got some heavy hitters on the docket. More info to come about next week’s lineup. In the meantime, earnestly, honestly, thank you. Without you we’re nothing.

Sincerely yours,

Soup & Bread

Soup & Bread: Extreme edition

March 17, 2011

OK, the “extreme” element of yesterday’s S&B refers not to the actual soup, which was tasty and plentiful, nor to the blessedly balmy weather, but to the apocalyptic streetscape that is currently the entrance to the Hideout. The city is putting in new sewer lines, and then repaving Wabansia Street, adding curbs, sidewalks, and allegedly a couple of trees. Trees! Come summer we should have a nice new patio, but right now it’s a godawful mess out there. So, kudos to everyone — including Jenny’s gallant grandpa — who gingerly walked that bouncy gangplank to come and get their soup on. We won’t even talk about what happened before you got there, when the guys putting in the sewer tried to turn off our water. Hideout co-owner Mike Hinchsliff and I vigorously talked them out of that. But, it may have been inhospitable outside, but inside our soup cooks more than made up for it. Above, far left in her chefs whites, is Susan Goss, chef and owner of West Town Tavern — who brought the pro game with a wild mushroom chowder served with utterly ridonkulous blue cheese croutons. Whoa. Next to her, kinda hidden, are Grant from Hull-House, dishing up carrot-ginger soup left over from their Re-Thinking Soup lunch Tuesday, and a volunteer from Ravenswood Community Services, with a hearty chicken chili. On their left is Bonnie Tawse, with fantastic fennel soup with a swirl of parsley-caper-scallion puree. Next to her is Gillian McLennan, with a vegan curried-carrot-and-coconut-milk soup (our new fave!) and Julia McDonald, from Peasants’ Plot, with a rustic potato leek. And here’s the view from the other side of the room, which includes the lovely Erin Drain, but does not capture her sisters in wine, Jane Lopes and Rachel Driver, who together make up Team Lush. They brought three soups: Cajun shrimp, corn, and potato chowder; a sumptuous pork pozole; and our second potato-leek of the day. It was pretty cozy back there at the soup table – and it will be like that from here on out, as all the procrastinators are now trying to get in on the soup action – but it was oh-so delicious. Thanks so much to all, and to our most charming DJ Matt Fields. Through their collective efforts we raised $290 for Lakeview Pantry. Hooray! Watch this space for news on next week’s terrific line-up, benefitting the Heartland Alliance’s Marjorie Kovler Center for survivors of torture.

Night of the Ashen Soup

March 10, 2011

Last night’s fantastic Soup & Bread was a night of uncommon synchronicity: Of our five soup cooks, FOUR turned up toting pots of something pureed and pale. “Didn’t it say that in the memo?” quipped Stephanie Izard. “That it had to be beige?”

We had spicy “caulichowder” with bacon from Jason and Danielle Bitner; avoglemono from Helen Tsatsos; creamy root vegetable (dressed with candied pecans) from Jenny and Nancy Hines; and parsnip-pear-pistachio soup — dressed with romesco sauce and preserved lemons,  from the team of Izard and Heather Shouse.

Oh yeah – did I mention STEPHANIE IZARD made soup this week? She was supercharming, gracious to all the swooning fans, and the soup was deeelicious. She and Heather – who coauthored the forthcoming “Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Eats, and Shops” — promise to get me the recipe soon.

And, oh yes! —  bucking the trend, Mike McDermott , coowner of Smoque BBQ, turned out a dark, decidedly non-beige, and allegedly devastating brisket chili. Thanks so much to all!

It was Ash Wednesday, but DJ Rob Miller did not heed my request for “songs of repentance and deprivation” — instead he kept the bowls spinning with a set of soup-friendly tunes of indulgence and sin. Hopefully  that won’t put off the folks at the First Presbyterian Church food pantry, on whose behalf we raised a whopping $552. And by “we” I really mean “you” — all of you who came, ate, and donated. Thanks so much to all!

And watch this space for next week’s lineup, coming soon.

Soup cooks 3/9

March 4, 2011

We had a banner week this week — so many fantastic soups; so many hungry people. And so many babies. Where did all those babies come from? (Wait, don’t answer that.)

Recipes are trickling in for David Kodeski’s dreamy congee, Kitty Tataryn’s roasted red pepper, and other soups of the day. Will have those posted soon. I should also give a quick shout out to both La Farine, which piled my Jeep so full of bread it smelled like a bakery at 5 am, and to Anne  from Crumb, who brought a half-dozen whole wheat boules and some amazing spicy cheddar bread. We also raised a cool $575 for the good folks at Benton House, in Bridgeport. It was great to see how they rallied their people to come out and show their support. Come back soon, y’all.

NOW, on to next week. It’s a doozy.

Stepping up to the trusty crocks we have:

Jason and Danielle Bitner, founders of The Betterment Society and proud parents of adorable Hollis, pictured above

The lovely and talented Helen Tsastos (Rock Candy by Helen), who promises her yiaya’s avoglemono

Our friends at Smoque BBQ, with chili

Bitchin’ babysitter Jenny Hines, teaming up with HER MOM, Nancy, for something vegetarian.

Time Out Chicago senior food and drink correspondent Heather Shouse, whose book Food Trucks comes out next month

and America’s sweetheart, Top Chef Stephanie Izard, the Girl behind The Girl & the Goat, where I’m still trying to get a reservation

All that, plus more soup from our friends at Hull-House, bread from La Farine, and the musical stylings of DJ Rob Miller. All proceeds benefit the food pantry at Woodlawn’s historic First Presbyterian Church.

See you there!

Night of the Living Bread

February 21, 2011

Regular readers of this blog (I know there are a couple of you out there) may have noticed a certain sameness to our weekly soup recaps. Because really, over three years, there’s only so much one can say about the ways in which people cook soup, come together, eat soup, and mingle. And that’s cool — we’ve got a good groove going at this point — but it makes for rather routine reading after a while.

So this week, let’s talk about bread. Because, holy cr*p we had so much bread this week. (We had a lot of good soups too, and I *will* get to those. In a minute.) But this week we scored two huge bags of boules and ciabatta from the kids at IIA, and then another five bags (!)  from La Farine, including whole-wheat baguettes, rolls, and at least 6 loaves of their incomparable ciabatta. My car smelled great! And then, when we got to the Hideout, we had bagels dropped off the night before by Aadam Jacobs, plus zatar bread from Taza Bakery, and crackers, and cornbread, and chocolate muffins, and buckeyes, and toffee, and … I’m sure I’ve missed something in there.

This bounty of baked goods was thanks in part to our regular donors La Farine and the Illinois Institute of Art Culinary School, but it was also thanks to the collective enthusiasm and pastry power of this week’s team of cooks, all of whom came from the ranks of LTH Forum, aka “the Chicago-based culinary chat site.” The LTH’ers brainstormed for weeks, and came through with flag flying high. On the table: Caldo do res (a Spanish beef soup featuring big chunks of corn on the cob), tomato-bacon soup, split pea soup with ham, smoked ham bone and navy bean soup, red beans and rice with sausage soup, the return of David Hammond’s pozole, curried squash and red lentil soup, and, in a nice curve ball, cold zuppa di celiege, or sour cherry soup (below).

Now, you might notice a common thread running through all but two of those soups. Namely, meat. (And in 4 out of 5 cases, not just meat, pork.) So at the last minute I enlisted a backup vegan chicken (ie: seitan) noodle soup from Swim Cafe. And then, at an even laster minute, Grant from Hull-House showed up with a pot of potato-herb soup leftover from that week’s ReThinking Soup. It appears this may become a regular thing.

So in other words, we had a whoooole lot of soup in which to sop all that bread. It was a powerful feast, set to the soothing sounds of DJ Lawrence Peters (who’s coming back this week with chili). And on top of it all we raised $227 for Asian Youth Services. Many thanks to everyone who participated, including David Hammond, Gary Wiviott, Catherine Lambrecht, Elaine Haney, Maribeth Heeran, Kenny Zuckerberg, Steve Zaransky, Jennifer Berman, Jenny Zelle, and all the other LTH’ers who contributed to the evening.

See you next week.

February 9 soup squad

February 13, 2011

Behold, our awesome soup team from this past week. From left to right, Grant from Hull-House, with a terrific split pea soup they donated at the last minute. I wish I had had some Tupperware on hand to take the extra home, because for the first time all soup season, we had LEFTOVER SOUP.

Next to Grant, obscured by hungry soup fiend: Richard Stacewicz, Dan Miller, and Simon Tankard, who come as a set. I haven’t gotten Richard and Dan’s recipes yet, but Simon produced a wonderful New Zealand sweet potato soup.

Next to them, the lovely and talented Kathleen Judge, with a veggie tortilla soup, and Miss Jeanine O’Toole, rescheduled from our snow day, with “Peanuts O’Toole.”

Next to her, Grace Tran and her very tasty vegan roasted root vegetable soup, and next to her, Tim Fister, who brought, with Andrea Lee, a terrific salt cod and chorizo chowder (!) that I’m hoping to get the recipe for soon. And on the end, Jessica Jordan, with a vegan tortilla soup!

Not shown, still one more soup cook, John McKevitt, who got stuck in Madison with car trouble. He’s another refugee from February 2, and I do hope we can get him back on the soup line soon, because I am dying to try his promised Groundhog Day-themed soup.

All in all, a great night of soup. Many thanks to all the cooks, to DJ Bob Weston, and to YOU, for donating a tasty $509 into the kitty. All of it goes to Help Ease Local Poverty, a program of the Jane Addams Hull-House Association.

Soup & Bread: Seattle!

February 2, 2011

There were many great things about Sunday’s Soup & Bread in Seattle, but this was one of my favorites. When you turned around from this view, of the totally awesome Funhouse? You got this view:

There seemed something fitting about serving up tasty soups in the shadow of the Space Needle, the symbol of a glorious future full of monorails, air cars, and Bubbleators that anchored the 1962 World’s Fair.  Onward to the 21st Century! Onward to Soup & Bread!

And if Sunday’s shindig was any indication, a glorious future it shall be, as Seattle took to Soup & Bread like slugs to a nice heavy rain. Several people remarked in awe on the turnout, which one friend characterized as “unheard of in Seattle on a Sunday night.” Also remarked upon: the relative diversity of the crowd, and this I can only attribute to our decentralized (aka “disorganized”) strategy of soup cook recruitment.

I flew out on Thursday* and Sheila joined me on Friday — and on Saturday we finally connected with Suzie Strait, our local fixer. She’s up there on the left, and she is great. Suzie was instrumental in lining up the venue, the bands that played afterward, and a posse of cooks from her wide-ranging network of pals. We could not have done it without her, and she’s vowing to keep the soup torch burning out here until we can come back. And, oh yes, she also makes a mean, vegan carrot-ginger soup! Next to her is Charlie Ryan, one half of team Old School with my friend and long-ago housemate Greg Stumph; Greg bought the ingredients, and Charlie whipped up a smooth-and-sour tom kha gai, full of the robust flavors of coconut milk and lemongrass, and lots of chicken and mushrooms. Greg was also in charge of driving, and fetching Charlie drinks from the bar. That’s teamwork!

Next to Charlie is Knox Gardner, the creator of the Soup Swap and a rare soulmate in soup-driven madness. If, after reading his site, you’re inspired to start your own swap, remember that, though, National Soup Swap Day was last Saturday, why be tied to such rules? As Knox says, “Swap when you can!” He brought a rich, full-flavored cream of mushroom soup that he’s been perfecting for weeks. Next to him is Sarah Kavage, who you may remember from such Chicago adventures as last year’s Industrial Harvest project (which I wrote about here), and who brought a ginormous pot of veggie chili, the remnants of which she fed to her husband when he showed up hours later, in dire need of sustenance.

Next to Sarah: the excellent Erica Barnett, editor of the local news site Publicola and a meticulous home cook, who test drove several recipes before enlisting another old friend, Publicola founder Josh Feit, to chop onions and cilantro as garnish for her version of “Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond’s chicken tortilla soup. And to Erica’s left? Chicago expat, pho enthusiast, and Stranger columnist Derek Erdman, who teamed up with his housemate Lacey Swain to create Pizza Soup – each bowl a layer of bread, a ladleful of tomato soup, a topping of cheese, and “an idea whose time has come,” in the words of fellow cook Kerri Harrop, whose chicken noodle soup Derek is working in this photo.

Speaking of Kerri Harrop, she seems to have escaped my camera. But she was in there somewhere, with that giant, hearty pot of her Nana’s chicken noodle soup. Kerri epitomized my S&B: Seattle experience. She’s one of those people who seems to know everyone I know in town — even though none of them knew each other. I may be the last person in Seattle to meet her, but I have now. She is way cool, and can rock an emerald-green cape like nobody’s business.

Up there on the left is Johnny Samra, of Radar Hair and Records — another idea whose time has come. He brought his mom’s vegan lentil soup – a model example of a classic form. He’s sharing table space with Patti Roeder, of Pike Brewing, whose sister is best friends with Sheila’s sister-in-law… or something like that. She brought creamy and delicious broccoli-beer soup made by Pike Brewing’s executive chef, Gary Marx. And next to her, on the end, is Lacey, modeling the aforementioned pizza soup.

Over on the bread beat, we had six beautiful boules baked by Jerry Corso and Gina Tolentino, of Bar Del Corso, from their own stash of Sarah’s Industrial Harvest flour. Plus some chewy rye loaves from Russ Battaglia — who disappeared before I could say thank you — and a whole heap of miscellaneous baguettes, rounds, you name it from Essential Baking.

It was of course a treat to see old friends, and get to make some new ones to boot. And it really brought home the community-based essence of Soup & Bread. Because while soup nights are always a collective effort, that’s never so true as when we take it on the road. We raised a cool $883 for Food Lifeline on Sunday night, and none of it would have been possible without the help of a squad of cheerful helpers, like Ruben Mendez, who put together a last-minute iPod mix of music to slurp soup by, and like the friend of Suzie’s who showed up with four folding tables, and like all the friends who donated folding chairs. Like the ultraaccomodating Brian Foss, owner of the Funhouse, and like the bands Suzie rounded up to play after the crocks ran dry. And like my mother, who worked her own network to not only marshall a small army of crock pots (“It looks like you’re starting a thrift store,” said Sheila, surveying the front hall of my parents’ house on Friday) and dig up the hurricane lamps left over from my sister Emily’s wedding, but also turn up  bread baskets, tablecloths, and zillions of votive candles — all courtesy of the shop at St. Mark’s Cathedral. (Did you know that if you stick 48 slightly used votive candles in the freezer for a few hours the candles will just pop right out of the glass sleeves? I didn’t – but I do now.)

So, once again, for the record, THANK YOU so much to everyone who contributed their culinary expertise, ingredients, time, enthusiasm, and just all around good vibes. As my sister Charlotte, who was in town from LA, said later, “It was just such a happy place to be.” Suzie — keep the soup pots simmering! It’ll give me one more reason to come home more often.

* I am still here, by the way. Waiting for Midway to reopen. Maybe Thursday? We’ll see. Anybody want to come pick me up at the airport?