Posts Tagged ‘Bonnie Tawse’

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.

Fennel Soup with a Swirl

March 22, 2011

From Bonnie Tawse
Serves 4-6

Up until she was 30 or so, Bonnie hated fennel because it smelled like black licorice. And, she says, “I loathe black licorice.” But then one summer afternoon, her brother-in-law, who is a farmer and caterer in Boulder, made a mess of sliced fennel that he caramelized and then sprinkled with shaved Parmesan. “I took a bite just to be a nice person and then had one of those transformative food moments. I said, ‘Wait, this is fennel? This is amazing.’ And since that afternoon I’ve been happy to try fennel in all sorts of preparations. I have a lot of lost time to make up.”

She got this recipe, adapted from one found in David Tanis’ cookbook Heart of the Artichoke, which was just nominated for a James Beard award, in a roundabout way thanks to the soup swap she hosted last month. A friend of a friend approached her at the gym and said, “I heard you had a soup swap! That is so cool! I love soup, I make soup all the time! I am so jealous I didn’t know about it.” She went on to praise the “bad-ass” fennel soup of their mutual friend, Tracey. Says Bonnie: “We got to talking, we talked about soup for almost an hour and then the next day she emailed me Tracey’s recipe.” The next week they wound up going to Re-Thinking Soup, at Hull House. “She had never been,” Bonnie says, “didn’t know it existed.”

Soup: It just keeps on giving.



1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed (reserving fronds), cored and cut into very thin slices
half of a large white onion, cut into thin slices
2 shallots, cut into thin slices
4 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (raw) long-grain white rice
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth


1 cup coarsely chopped fennel fronds (from the fennel bulbs)
Leaves from 4 to 6 stems flat-leaf parsley (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon capers, drained
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and light-green parts
1/2 cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the sliced fennel, onion, shallots, and garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture has softened and picked up a little color.
Add the rice and the 6 cups of broth. Increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Cook for 20 minutes.

Working in batches transfer the soup to a blender and puree; remove the center knob in the blender lid and place a dish towel over the opening to allow steam to escape. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into the pot that was used to cook the soup; discard any fibrous solids. Place over medium-low heat. If the consistency is too thick, add broth as needed.

While the soup is warming, make the green swirl: Rinse and dry the blender, then add the fennel fronds, parsley, capers, basil, scallions, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree on high speed until smooth, then transfer to a small bowl. 
Ladle equal portions of soup into individual bowls, Swirl a tablespoon of the green puree into each bowl.

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.

Soup cooks 3/16

March 10, 2011

On the soup line this week!

West Town Tavern chef Susan Goss, with a wild mushroom chowder

Writer and gardener Bonnie Tawse, with fennel soup

Gillian McLennan, with … who knows?

Team Lush: Erin Drain, Jane Lopes, and Rachel Driver, representing this fine purveyor of wine and spirits with *three* of their finest soups

and Team RCS: Wendy Vasquez and volunteers from Ravenswood Community Services, bearing white bean and chicken chili

All this plus DJ Matt Fields! All proceeds from this night of Soup & Bread benefit Lakeview Pantry. See you there!

ETA: How did I forget about Peasants’ Plot? Todd and Julia McDonald are also bringing soup this week. That’s a lot of soup, folks, and it’s not going to eat itself. See you Wednesday!

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

March 15, 2010

From Bonnie Tawse

Serves 8 -12

[Ed: I don’t know if the surge of interest in Mexican cooking is thanks to Top Chef Masters or what, but tortilla soups are neck-and-neck with butternut squash in terms of Soup and Bread popularity this year. I believe this one, which Bonnie adapted from Rick Bayless’s Authentic Mexican, is our first vegetarian version. Says Bonnie: “I fell in love with ‘Sopa de Tortilla’ while living with my husband in Guanajuato, Mexico. There are many different versions, some have chicken, some omit the avocado. This one is pretty straightforward, but you must let the tortillas get stale before you fry them, otherwise they won’t be crispy and that’s such an important texture in this soup.”]


4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or lard if you’re cool with that)
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
4 cloves of peeled garlic
1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained
3 quarts broth, either chicken or veggie
12 tortillas, lay them out on a sheet prior so go stale
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 pound Oaxacan cheese cut into small cubes
2 large limes cut into wedges
3 avocados cut into cubes


In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and the garlic cloves and cook until both are a nutty brown, about 15 minutes. Scrape into a blender, add the tomatoes and blend until smooth.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the same skillet over medium high. When hot, add the tomato mixture, and stir frequently until it thickens and is noticeably darker, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a large soup pot.

Stir the broth into the thickened tomato mixture, partially cover with a lid and let simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat. Taste and season with salt accordingly.

Meanwhile, slice the tortilla in half and then cut the halves into ¼ inch strips. Heat the 2/3 cup of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, When the oil is hot, and add the tortilla strips and fry, turning often until they crisp up. Quickly remove from oil and drain on paper towels or paper bags.

Divide the cubes of cheese amongst the bowls then top with the tortilla strips and avocado cubes. Ladle the hot soup over the garnishes and squeeze with a lime. Serve immediately, preferably with a cold beer.

Week 10

March 15, 2010

I’m back! Did you miss me?

I spent a very long weekend covering the big FamilyFarmed Expo for the Reader; if you’re curious you can read about backyard chickens,  shared-use kitchens, and more here. But, as a result, all pending soup coverage had to go on the back burner. (Sorry.)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was a sneaky maneuver on my part to get other people to do the work for me. Soup cook Bonnie Tawse, who brought a terrific vegetarian tortilla soup adapted from Rick Bayless’s Authentic Mexican, has a great wrap-up of the evening over on her blog.

Pictured above are our lovely cooks for the night. From left to right, we’ve got dancer and author Maggie Kast, who wrote  a bit about Soup and Bread over on her own food blog as well. Her cauliflower-watercress soup was great — the coziness of cauliflower nicely cut by the light and fresh ‘cress — and those breadsticks were the bomb.

Next to Maggie is Charlie Hall, who remains a man of mystery, as he arrived with a late-breaking green chile soup and then disappeared before I had a moment to come say thanks. Thanks, Charlie!

Next to Charlie is Bonnie, and in the middle is David Kodeski, who last year whipped up a pair of borschts from some old family recipes, and provided said recipes heavily annotated, in the style of his ‘pa. This year he made a cazuela, a Chilean chicken soup with nine zillion vegetables, served over mashed potato dumplings. Way to slack off, Kodeski.

Danielle Marvit, from Mint Creek Farm, wrote up a little preview of her Soup and Bread plans, and then followed through with a stupendous mutton stew, rich, hearty, and with rosemary just bustin’ out all over.

And, over on the end Susannah Kite Strang offered a little preview of spring, with a vibrant fresh pea soup topped with yogurt. This is the easiest soup ever, she says. If I remember correctly, it’s just peas, cream, and a tiny bit of broth. And maybe some … onion?

In any case, I’ve got recipes for many of these soups in hand already, and should have them up soon, along with those for the olive ciabatta and cornbread Luke Joyner, of stout soup fame, brought in as a last-minute surprise.

Somehow I neglected to let the good people at  Benton House know we were doing this (usually I give the beneficiaries a heads-up) but, through the magic of the internet, they found out anyway. Executive director Mark Lennon and some of the staff came and ate with us, and went home with a tidy $429. Thanks for coming out! Sorry I wasn’t more organized!

This week’s soup donations go to Inspiration Corporation. They will be joining us, along with a very exciting roster of cooks, on Wednesday, March 17, from 5:30 to 8. See you there, yah? No green plastic hats required.

Soup cooks 3/10/10

March 4, 2010

Ooh, next week should be fun. On crock pot duty:

Writer, performer, and borscht master David Kodeski

Bonnie Tawse, director of environmental programs for the Lurie Garden

Author and dancer Maggie Kast

Artist and high school teacher (and dumpling-soup-maker) Susannah Kite Strang

Charlie Hall … who is, so far, a mystery


Mint Creek Farm’s Danielle Marvit, who blogged about her plans for Soup and Bread earlier this week.

Donations generated by this awesomely eclectic bunch of soup cooks go to support the food pantry at Benton House, in Bridgeport. See you next week!