Posts Tagged ‘La Farine Bakery’

Summer soup update

July 4, 2011

Wednesday’s soup schedule is coming together — and, ooooh, it’s going to be good.

On the docket, soups from:

Big Star
Swim Cafe
Inspiration Kitchens
Milk & Honey
Celestial Kitchens
City Provisions
Guerilla Smiles Catering

… and more are still coming in

ETA: like Tre Kronor, with chilled blueberry soup!

Bread graciously donated, as ever, by La Farine Bakery.

With DJ Michael Slaboch, of the Numero Group and, now, the Hideout.

No crock pots will be harmed in the making of this Soup & Bread. We’re dishing up COLD SOUP ONLY.

All proceeds benefit the Garfield Park Conservatory.

That’s this Wednesday, July 6, from 5:30-8 pm at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. No cover; kids (with grownups) are welcome.

Sweetness.

A Very Special Summer Soup & Bread

July 1, 2011

[This and all photos courtesy Garfield Park Conservatory.]

As you’ve likely heard by now, the Garfield Park Conservatory — 105 years old, and one of the largest and most beautiful conservatories in the country, if not the world — was devastated by the June 30 storm that downed trees, cut power, and hammered the city of Chicago with golf-ball-sized chunks of hail.

The conservatory’s website reports:

The Garfield Park Conservatory sustained catastrophic damage in last night’s hailstorm, shattering approximately half of the glass panes in the roofs of the historic Fern Room, Show House, and nine propagation greenhouses. The glass panes in the Desert House also sustained significant damage. The pathways, ponds and plants in the Fern Room, Show House, Desert House and propagation houses are covered with broken glass, and shards of glass hang dangerously from the roofs. Until the roofs are repaired, rain will cause the ponds to overflow, and direct sunlight will destroy and kill the plants that have been so carefully and lovingly conserved for so many years.

Conditions right now are too dangerous for Conservatory staff to go in and care for the plants — which include a huge range of succulents, tropicals, cacti, and ferns as well as a rare double coconut palm that’s possibly the largest of its kind anywhere outside the rainforest. There is glass everywhere: on the floor, in the trees, in the ponds, embedded in bark and leaves and buds. It is, a friend on staff told me, so disastrous on so many levels — structural, horticultural, financial — they’re still trying to sort it all out.

What is known is that thanks to this nasty act of Mother Nature, the facility will likely be closed for months. And it’s going to take a whole lot of money to get it up and running again. So, clearly, the situation calls for some soup. And maybe some bread.

This Wednesday, July 6, from 5:30 – 8, come join us at the Hideout for a Very Special Summer Soup & Bread to benefit an institution that’s one of the few things in Chicago that I, at least, believe is an unqualified public good.

Because the Conservatory isn’t just an architectural treasure — though it is that, designed by Jens Jensen, the MAN of Chicago landscape architecture, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And it’s not just an oddly successful tourist attraction, drawing visitors who might otherwise never venture beyond the Bean to the uncharted west side with the twinkly lures of Dale Chihuly glass — though that’s of course great too.

The Conservatory’s also home to the propagation greenhouses (above) that nurture plants for parks across the city – and allow community gardeners and nonprofits to colonize a bit of their bench space for their own heirloom tomatos. It teaches beekeeping and worm composting and provides a home for the U. of I. Extension’s master gardener program (which I was a part of in 2007).

It teaches the littlest kids how to nurture a sunflower seed in a Dixie cup. It provides professional development opportunities for teachers interested in botany and ecology. It wrangles rowdy thousands of field-tripping CPS students every year. It reaches out to west-side community groups to help develop their own green spaces and gardens. It hosts a farmers’ market. And, like just about every public programming outfit anywhere, it’s already operating on the slimmest of shoestring budgets.

In other words, it is an irreplaceable community resource, one I’ve been lucky enough to volunteer at and learn from over the years.

OK. Sure. Realistically, the money we raise at Soup & Bread might repair four panes of glass. But it’s the least we can do. And it will be fun! We miss you! It’s been lonely around there this spring, and we’ve got a brand new patio and everything.

So please come out Wednesday and join the Hideout, Swim Cafe, and all the other soup cooks I have yet to round up, in showing our support. We’ll be serving COLD SOUP ONLY, with bread donated by our friends at La Farine Bakery, and tunes spun by Numero Group‘s Michael Slaboch.

Oh — and if you can’t make it on Wednesday, you can donate directly to the Conservatory via their website. Every little bit helps. Want more gory details? See this FOX News Chicago report for the full monty: Garfield Park Conservatory Closed Due to Hailstorm Damage: MyFoxCHICAGO.com

ETA: Parts of the Conservatory–the undamaged parts–reopened today (Sunday) so go on out and show them some love. Also, the Fern Room turtles have been sighted and seem to be doing fine. (Shells. They’re handy!) Here they are (above) having a meeting to assess the damage to their pond.

About last night

January 6, 2011

This photo rather says it all. We had a stunning, record turnout for the start of Soup & Bread 2011. I don’t know how many people were packed into the soup line there, but my immense thanks to one and all for a) coming and b) being so patient as we worked out the glitches in our soup service and then, of course, ran out of soup.  At 6:45. I credit the collective good humor of the soup fans of Chicago from saving us from an ugly scene. And, the lack of food didn’t stop the crowd from generously filling the donations bucket: We raised a record $669 dollars last night, all of which is going to the Casa Catalina Basic Human Needs Center at Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Back of the Yards.

Our soup cooks and helpers bore the brunt of the onslaught. I can’t speak to their culinary prowess —  I got about three bites of food all night — but I’d like to just thank them once again for stepping up as guinea pigs as we gear up for three new months of soup. They were patient, helpful, and compiled a list of suggestions for ways we could help things run more smoothly that I’m going to implement next week. (Thanks to Anastasia, above, who brought a black bean soup with cumin yogurt, for serving as secretary!)

Celeste and Devon brought a chicken noodle soup, one of the few I did get to sample. Overachievers that they are, they also brought two cakes and a plate of whoopie pies. Other cooks, who managed to escape my camera, were Tom V. Ray (chili), Brian Ferguson (doro wat), Swim Cafe (carrot-ginger soup), and a Soup & Bread newbie, Debbie Baer, who delivered her own take on potato-leek soup.

Soup & Bread’s always been a community endeavor, but never so much so as last night. We would not have been able to pull it all together without the contributions of many friends, including Swim Cafe workers Dianna Ryan and Ellyn Diko, who’ve pitched in to lend a hand each week in the back room; DJ Mary Nisi, whose set of soup music set the perfect mood; Soup & Bread partner and design guru Sheila Sachs, the hostess with the mostest; newly appointed S&B laundress Alison True; the generous Rida Shadin and Michelle Calderhead at La Farine Bakery, purveyors of the official Soup & Bread ciabatta; and pastry chef Rae Hill (shown above with official S&B cab driver Dmitry Samarov), who facilitated the donation of 15 pies by Paula Haney and the good bakers of Hoosier Mama Pie Company.

We’ll have recipes coming soon — and the lowdown on who, and what, we’ve got on tap for next week. In the meantime, stay warm. And of course, eat soup.

Thanks, everyone.

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.