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.