Posts Tagged ‘La Farine’

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.

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.

Soup cooks, Jan. 26

January 20, 2011

Soup & Bread this week (1/19) saw not six but eight stellar soups, and a bounty of bread to boot. Apparently the bakers at La Farine had been experimenting with new recipes, and we reaped the rewards. Pair that with the onset of winter quarter at IIA, and we can now look forward to tasting the homework of Chef Jeanne Kraus’s pastry students each week as well. This week: baguettes.

Providing soup to in which to soak the bread: Robin Linn, with an English onion soup; Rob Miller, with fantastic “free-range” venison chili; Sarah Dandelles, with autumn root vegetable soup inspired by the one served at the Old Town School; Jill Barron, with a stunning green curry butternut squash; Carol Watson, with potato, leek, and roasted garlic; and Paul Wargaski with not one, not two, but THREE soups: a vegan blackeyed pea-and-collard-greens soup inspired by Lawrence Peters’s recipe from the Soup & Bread Cookbook, a vegetarian minestrone, and chicken with alphabet pasta.

Their collective efforts helped us raise $382 for the Irving Park Community Food Pantry. Thanks, everyone!

And now, on to next week. Stepping up to the soup line:

Village‘s Stephen Ucherek

Nate Lepine, from the Violet Hour

Fork and the Road‘s Sharon Bautista and Dimitra Tasiouras

Teacher Paula Ladin

Dancer/author Maggie Kast

and one more still TBD a return visit from Beth and Jody Osmund, of Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm.

PLUS!  Still another smooth DJ, this week the excellent Ms. Carrie Weston.

See you there!

PS: Big thanks to Jessica Reaves, who came to S&B on the 19th and penned this nice piece about us for the Chicago News Cooperative. ETA: HOLY COW IT IS IN THE EFFING NEW YORK TIMES.

Soup cooks, Jan. 19

January 14, 2011

Technical difficulties (#$@$!% camera) have prevented the timely posting of tales from this week’s Soup & Bread, but trust me, it was great. Busy but not mobbed, delicious soups, nice people, only minor reheating issues … the usu. And the sweet bonus of $420 raised for Ravenswood Community Services. We will hopefully have recipes — and photos — for you soon.

In the meantime, let’s look to the future. Cooking next week we’ve got:

Luthier and Tangleweed bassist Paul Wargaski, who last year made an amazingly delicate and pretty Matzo Ball with Braised Fennel soup.

Mana Food Bar chef Jill Barron, who promises Green Curried Butternut Squash soup.

Her Division Street neighbor Carol Watson, proprietor of Milk & Honey, who was saying something about potatoes, roasted garlic, and leeks.

Sarah Dandelles — dog lover, bike and parks advocate, music maven, art teacher, and director of dance/movement education at the Old Town School — who is fine-tuning something vegan and gluten free.

Sound Opinions producer Robin Linn, whose 40 Watt Garlic Soup was one of my favorite surprises last year. Wards off both vampires and the common cold.

And, this just in, a return visit from Bloodshot Records‘ chief executive sausage-maker Rob Miller, toting a pot of Venison Chili.

I also believe that next week we’ll be reaping the bounty of the first homework assignments in Chef Jeanne Kraus’s baking class at the Illinois Institute of Art Culinary School, to supplement the bread contributed by the generous bakers at La Farine.

All donations raised on the 19th go to the Irving Park Community Food Pantry.

And, that’s it. Short and sweet. See you next week!

ETA: Forgot to mention the other bonus next week — DJ Peter Margasak. Thanks P!

Soup cooks, Jan. 12

January 7, 2011

Here’s who we’ve got warming up for January 12:

Art and Chelsea Jackson, of the blog — and soon-to-be bakery, Pleasant House

Michael Slaboch, from archival record label Numero Group

Christopher Sullivan, who is, thus far, a man of mystery has been waiting tables at Blackbird for 7 years and is looking forward to opening his own restaurant in 2011

Niall Munnelly, who describes himself as “another aspiring musician with a desk job … constantly looking for ways to add more beer to his diet.”

Writer/bartender Camille Severino — who does double duty as the organizer of the annual jambalaya cookoff at Fitzgerald’s

and Hull-House executive chef Tara Lane, the current force behind Re-Thinking Soup

Tara’s participation is a bit of happy synergy, as I’m slated to speak at Re-Thinking Soup on Tuesday, Jan. 11. Don’t have enough free soup in your life? Come on over. It’s from noon to 1 in the museum’s historic Residents Dining Hall — the same dining hall where Upton Sinclair, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, and Gertrude Stein once met, supped, and schemed to uplift the masses/monkeywrench the capitalist machine. I’ll be talking about soup, community building, and who knows what all else.

Also — more synergy — someone else will be wielding a ladle on Michael Slaboch’s behalf, as he’ll be busy in the DJ booth next Wednesday, spinning classic tracks from Numero’s catalog of 60s and 70s soul for your soup-eating enjoyment.

We’ll also have bread from La Farine and the baking class at the Illinois Institute of Art Culinary Program. And maybe some surprise treats to boot.

All donations raised on the 12th go to Ravenswood Community Services. I spent some time in their community kitchen recently, and will have more on what they do posted here soon.

Week 15: And so we come to the end

April 20, 2010

There was so much going on at last week’s final Soup and Bread (and Pie) that wrapping it up has proved a challenge. Do I lead with my new hero, Hot Doug Sohn? Doug showed up bright and early as we were still setting up tables. He brought along two large pots,  one bursting with 20-sausage chili, the other brimming with tortilla soup. He brought his own burners. He dished up bowls of deliciousness till the bitter end, then stuck around to clean up. We couldn’t get him to sit down and have a beer! He even helped count the cash. Doug, you win. You really are the nicest guy in Chicago food.

But I don’t mean to shortchange the contributions of the rest of the soup team. Take Allison Stout, over there on the far right. Last Wednesday morning I was fretting, fearful of a looming soup shortage. I Twittered my anxiety to the world, and Allison responded in a flash. “Off today and could bring by some potato soup. Let me know.”  Voila! Another soup, social media-style. Thank you Allison! You also win. As of today, I just heard, she is gainfully employed as the CEO of Hoosier Mama‘s savory quiche and pot pie program. Lucky duck.

Of course, between Doug and Allison, our friends at Swim Cafe (who came through this week with an artichoke and green pea soup), the surprise chili contribution of our neighbor Dan Blue (recipe for “Crazy Dan’s Hot Aged Chili Cooked With Hydrogen” coming soon), and the scheduled soup stylings of the rest of our cooks, there was no actual soup shortage. Christine Garcia, in the bottom-left corner there, produced a pot starring this season’s stealth ingredient, hominy. Specifically a smoky white bean-chipotle-hominy soup whose complex balance of flavors (there’s also a lot of garlic and cumin involved) belies its alleged simplicity. And Josh Hudson stifled his inner carnivore to produce the nutty, vegan “Iranian Enrichment Program” soup, a chickpea, spinach, and sun-dried tomato concoction shot through with … spices. When he gets me the recipe I’ll tell you exactly what spices.

Cheesemonger Brad Bornac paid tribute to the arrival of tiny baby Olive with his Olive Tortellini in Basil-Parmesan Broth, a spin on a family favorite called Ravs in Broth. And Hideout talent booker Jeanine O’Toole honored her Irish heritage with a vegan curried carrot soup she dubbed Carrots O’Toole. Because, you know, the Irish are so famed for their curries. And their vegan cookery. Both Brad and Jeanine have already sent along their recipes (win!) and I should have those up soon.

But — wait — here I am going on and on about soup and neglecting not just bread, but our special guest star, pie! The fantabulous Sheila Sachs, who also produced a light and springlike vegetable-pesto soup last week in honor of cookbook donors the Gills, rounded up a stellar array of bakers to contribute pie. And cookies. And cake. The above photo was taken before half the night’s baked bounty arrived —  but note tasty “free spinach brownies” at bottom right. All our bakers are winners, but Henry and Beckett? Ultrawin.

We also had a overflowing basket of Soup and Bread-themed minibrownies, courtesy of the lovely Liz Tamny.

And the piece de resistance: the Soup and Bread Crock Pot Cake. Courtesy of mad genius baker Celeste Dolan and her partner in crime Devon Bergman. Inside: layer after layer of chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream. Allegedly, one soup-hungry guest tried in vain to take the lid off this crock to see what lay inside. I really wish I had seen that.

I’d also like to take a moment for a heartfelt shout out to Rida Shahin, Clare Kellam, and the rest of the staff at La Farine. They have graciously donated bag after bag of bread to the cause this winter, and if you’re not hooked on their chewy, salty ciabatta by now you really don’t know what you are missing. Stop by the bakery some time (@ 1461 W. Chicago) and find out; they’re the nicest people southeast of Doug, and seriously skillful bakers to boot. Thank you so very much, Rida. You win too!

The weather last week was fantastic, allowing us to spill out onto the patio. A good thing, since a slew of regulars and newcomers, like my buddy Lilli, above, turned out to sample the night’s extensive menu. And, thanks to the generosity of this big and happy crowd, we raised a glorious $526 for Ravenswood Community Services.

And so, we come to the end of this action-packed soup season. But … not really. There are more recipes to come, and another cookbook to write, and plans for summer soups to confirm. And, of course, there’s bingo. Stay tuned for more on bingo, and much more on soup. And thank you so much for sticking around through Soup and Bread 2010. It was pretty awesome, all around.

Week nine

March 5, 2010

Check out those buns! Or, erm, rolls.

Yes, I finally bought a new, better camera. Let’s hope I don’t drop it, lens first, like I have the last two. Because, seriously? My clumsiness is getting expensive.

Those luscious lumps of dough, above, are black sesame-sea salt rolls from Chef Kraus’s Elissa Narrow’s baking class at the Illinois Institute of Art; Rae and I are heading down there tomorrow for an open house and to say THANK YOU to all the students for helping bring bread out of the Soup and Bread shadows. Hopefully I will have more photos.

And, speaking of bread — I have a special place in my heart for delicious things made with stale bread. Apparently Celeste does too, because she decided to break in her brand-new chafing dish with a giant pan of Gruyere-and-caramelized-onion bread pudding (above), made from some leftover bread from a few weeks back. What’s better than food from stale bread? Food from stale bread topped with melted cheese. I’m working on getting the recipe.

Between Chef Kraus and the kind people at La Farine, we were rolling in bread (and rolls) this week, but the sweet side of baking was underrepresented — until Sheila SHOWED UP WITH PIE. Specifically, an apple pie with a crumb topping loaded with cinnamon and sugar. YUM! So good. Recipe on that also coming soon.

And, oh yeah! The soup. Pictured here, from left to right, are this week’s marvelous team of soup cooks:

Chris Carollo, who’s working hard building support to establish a community supported kitchen (or more than one!) in Chicago. He brought savory beef stew that, he admitted, was more labor-intensive than anticipated. You could taste the difference.

Cara Tillman, who brought a smoky pork pozole built on one of the tastiest pork broths I’ve ever encountered in all my soup travels. Not a lick of fat, but so dense with flavor!

Camille Severino, who organizes the annual Jambalaya Fest at Fitzgerald’s, brought a hearty vegetarian minestrone. Sadly, that’s all I can tell you, because before I got a taste it was gone, gone, gone.

And, on the end, representing the crew of Gapers Block‘s Drive-Thru section, editor in chief Andrew Huff and his wife Cinnamon Cooper, whose Everything Cast-Iron Cookbook comes out later this year. Congrats, Cinnamon!

With help from Drive-Thru editor Robyn Nisi and a couple other folks whose names I missed, Andrew and Cinnamon whipped up THREE soups:

Sweet and Sour Tomato Soup with Cabbage and Sausage (!!!)

Roasted Tomato Soup (a reprise from last year)

and West African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup, which is featured in Cinnamon’s book and — Brandy and I agreed — was a deliciously odd texture, sort of like pumpkin pie filling if it was made with peanut butter.

Strangely, it didn’t seem that busy this week, but all the food was GONE by 7 PM. My apologies to anyone who missed out — it’s so hard to gauge how much soup we need, and balance that against how much we can handle! A year later I think we’re still figuring it out.

But, still, even if traffic was slow, we raised $327 for Catholic Charities. So maybe I just wasn’t paying attention and there was actually a mob in the back room. It’s not out of the question.

Check back this weekend for at least some of these recipes. And see you next week!