Posts Tagged ‘Derek Erdman’

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?


Soup & Bread: Seattle

January 18, 2011

We are headed west!

So psyched to announce the second in our whirlwind schedule of once-a-year Soup & Bread tours: My hometown, the beautiful Seattle, WA (where it looks just like that photo ALL THE TIME). We have teamed up with the awesomely energetic Suzie Strait and a bunch of local cooks to stage a soup night at the Funhouse to raise money for Food Lifeline.

Cooks on board include Strait, Pike BrewingPublicola editor Erica Barnett, artist and Stranger columnist Derek Erdman, artist Sarah Kavage (creator of the Industrial Harvest project), Soup Swap creator Knox Gardner, and legendary Seattle rhythm section Greg Stumph and Charlie Ryan — with more still TBA. Bread donations generously, graciously provided by Essential Baking and others.

It’s Sunday, January 30, from 5:30 to 8 at the Funhouse, 206 5th Avenue N. There’s no cover, but donations, all of which go to Food Lifeline, are encouraged. (Monetary donations only; no food please.) A benefit show follows at 8:30 with Partman ParthorseWhalebones, and Man Sized Heartache. There’s a $6 cover for that.

Spread the word!

ETA: This just in! More bread generously being donated by Jerry Corso and Gina Tolentino from Bar del Corso. Thanks Jerry and Gina!

ETA YET AGAIN: Russ Battaglia, of the late, lamented Lola’s South City Bakery, is donating bread as well. He says he is “currently residing at St. Dames.” Wherever he is, I hear he’s an ace baker — though to arrested-development me he’ll always be Russ-from-Fallout. Thanks, Russ!

ETA THE THIRD: Also on the soup beat: DJ Kerri Harrop and Johnny Samra, owner of Radar Hair and Records.

Week 11

March 19, 2010

I’ve been trying really hard not to read anything into the fact that Paul Kahan made soup for us on the same day that Alex Chilton died. Because despite that sad, freaky coincidence, it was a night of Big Stars.

Erm, did I mention that PAUL KAHAN MADE SOUP THIS WEEK?

I was a little worried that between Kahan, the gorgeous weather, and the annual holiday of the green plastic hats, we would be mobbed. So I got to the bar superearly to make sure everything was set up with time to spare. (Big ups to surprise assistant Derek Erdman, who apparently didn’t have anything to do at 4 PM besides haul folding chairs around the Hideout. Thanks Derek!)

And then — whether thanks to foresight, or the fact that it was quite possibly just almost too warm for soup, or who knows what — chaos did not ensue. Sure, it was busy, but manageable-busy. Pleasant, bustlin’, soup-lovin’ busy — and just a great night all around.

That’s Kahan, above, “sexing up” a bowl of his silky yellow split pea and truffle (!) soup with croutons and fresh pea shoots.

And here’s our entire magic soup crew.

On the far left is Susannah Kite Strang, following up last week’s fresh pea soup with a pot of yummy vegetarian minestrone that featured a very generous stuff-to-broth ratio.

Next to her is Immediate Sound Series curator Mitch Cocanig. “Oh, great,” Mitch moaned, after he peered into PK’s soup pot. “You made split pea soup too!?!” But they were both delicious, and totally different — Mitch’s green and rustic, and full of smoky ham goodness thanks to a hock that he “boiled the shit out of” for six hours.

On the other side of Kahan is our very own Sheila Sachs, who spent *days* slaving over a pot of her mother’s shrimp and red pepper cream soup. This was a project that entailed taking the Montrose bus over to the Fish Guy, where she bought ten pounds of fish bones, and then hauling those bones back home and stinking up her house with the stock. The soup itself is made with 8 pounds of shrimp procured from our neighbors at Plitt Seafood, via our other neighbor Dan Blue. Thanks, Dan!

Next to Sheila is Trea Fotidzis, with the much-anticipated Polish dill pickle soup, a Soup and Bread first! Mitch helped with this one, shredding 52 pickles by hand the night before. It was *great.* Very old country and not weird at all. Refreshing, like cucumber soup, but, you know, pickled.

And on the end is Kent Kessler, with a fragrant pot of pork and hominy chili. Hominy, like butternut squash and tortilla soup, is a recurring theme this year. This was *massive* — spicy and rich, and topped with a piquant salsa of onions, jalapeno, and cilantro and a crumble of salty cotija cheese.

Bridging the gap between soup and bread, and St. Patrick’s Day, was another stellar bread pudding, courtesy of Celeste and Devon. Rich and savory,  this one was packed with brussels sprouts and corned beef!

We also had another bagful of baguettes from La Farine, and platters of challah from Chef Kraus’s pastry students at Illinois Institute of Art. Some of their challahs were shaped into traditional braids; others were fancifully blobby. And a few were just downright adorable:

But this little guy proved too tempting for someone, giving rise to the night’s great mystery: Who stole his snout?

Staff members from Inspiration Corporation,  beneficiaries of this week’s donations, turned up with literature and, hurray!, plates of cookies. Inspiration’s probably best known as the organization behind Inspiration Cafe, in Uptown, and the Living Room Cafe, in Woodlawn — both of which provide restaurant quality meals and supportive services, including food-service job training at the associated Cafe Too, to homeless Chicagoans. Thanks to you Soup and Bread raised a tidy $359 toward their efforts. Thanks, everybody!

Next week a team from LTH Forum takes over Soup and Bread. I don’t know exactly what’s on the menu, but I think I heard something about a reprise of last year’s mulefoot pozole, and LTH founder  Gary Wiviott has already sent me his recipe for his mother’s kneifla, or beef soup with drop dumplings. With that much culinary know-how in the house, you know it’s gonna be good.

And, lastly, a reminder: We were slated to wrap this up March 31, but due to overwhelming demand among would-be cooks, we’ve extended Soup and Bread until April 14. Still, that’s just FOUR WEEKS away. Don’t miss out on all the exciting spring soup action!

See you next Wednesday. Recipes coming soon.

Soup and pie

March 26, 2009


Last night was a Very Special Edition of Soup and Bread, thanks to the vision and initiative of Sheila Sachs, pie maven.


Chocolate-peanut butter pie. Cherry pie. Ginger-apple pie. Apple pie with an all-butter crust. Lemon custard. Pecan. Angel-cream pecan. Maple-pecan tart. Chocolate cake and banana bread, to mix it up a bit. And, to cut all that sugar, a savory tomato-cheddar pie. It was truly overwhelming — and I hope very much to have some recipes to share soon. In the meantime, thanks so much to Sheila and her squad of bakers: Jane Roberts, Irma Nunez, John Roeser, Renate Durnbaugh, Anastasia Davies Hinschliff, Deanna Varagona, Liz Tamny, and Derek Erdman!


And then, of course, there was soup. Chunky, aromatic Khao tom (Thai chicken) with wontons, from Allison Stout and her catering partner Andrea (last name??); light spring vegetable flecked with watercress from Vegetarian Librarian Kelly Reiss; rich poblano-potato-corn chowder from Christine Garcia; smoky beef chili from Josh Hudson; thick and hearty lentil from Sarah Best; and a complex, dubiously Bulgarian (her words!) tomato with couscous dumplings from Susannah Strang.


We had a terrific turnout: so much so that all the soup was gone, gone, gone by 6:20. Which is both great and a bit regrettable. Or, at least, I regret it. I only got to taste two of the six, darnit. Thankfully, the recipes are already pouring in.

We raised $228 for the Food Depository, which brings puts us $89 past our end-of-season goal of $2,000. And that is … it’s amazing.  And makes me so happy. Like this:


Meanwhile, there’s still one Soup and Bread to go, and it’s going to be a doozy. Don’t touch that dial — we’ll be back soon with details.