Posts Tagged ‘Paul Kahan’

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.

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Soup cooks 4/13

April 7, 2011

It’s that time of year again  — the time when we put Soup & Bread to bed and move on to warmer, greener pursuits. This past week was a doozy, with cooks from the Hearty BoysGapers Block, Billions, and Biz 3 raising $312 for the domestic-violence prevention agency Between Friends. But, before we pack up the stock pots for the summer, we’ve got one more night of goodness for you, including a soup showdown of epic proportions.

In one corner! Paul Kahan (Blackbird/Avec/Publican/Big Star capo) and Brian Huston (chef de cuisine at the Publican)

In the other! the man with the meat, Rob Levitt, owner and proprietor of the Butcher and Larder

These guys plan to Bring It. But that’s not all!

We also have:

From the Golden Horse Ranch Band and Living Room Realty, Annie Coleman!

From the ranks of former Hideout bartenders, and from One Degree Off, Marie Marasovich!

From Lindblom Math & Science Academy, artist and teacher Susannah Kite Strang!

From Dianna, Ellen, Karen, and all our friends at Swim Cafe!

And, we will also have soup from First Slice, one of TWO recipients of tonight’s soup dollars – they are sharing the donations with the Common Pantry.

And that’s not all! Tonight – per Soup & Bread tradition, sees the return of SOUP & PIE, with delicious pies and other sweets donated by a multitude of friendly bakers. We’re still hammering out the deets, but expect to get your sugar fix.

Providing your celebratory soup sounds: Mike “DJ Treetop Lover” Bulington and Sarah Gardiner

How much better could it get? Not much. But if you can stand the awesomeness, stick around for the Rempis Percussion Quartet at 9:30, sharing the night with DJ Jeff Parker, spinning “ridiculous drum and percussion records.”

One-stop holiday shopping

December 6, 2010

Welcome shoppers!

We spent a hectic — but very encouraging — two days at the Renegade Holiday Sale this weekend. We saw a lot of familiar faces and got to know a great many more. And, just as exciting, we got to roll out a bunch of new Soup & Bread merchandise.

We’ve been busy all fall collecting recipes from our 2010 Soup & Bread cooks — but rather than compile them as a cookbook, we decided to change things up a bit this year. Instead, we ran off a set of recipe cards, 24 in all, bundled into four separate packets of five soups and one bread — a vegetarian pack, a vegan pack, a meaty pack, and a variety pack. They’re printed on nice heavy card stock and decorated with some of Paul Dolan‘s illustrations from last year’s cookbook. We got them back from the printer on Friday and they made their debut at the Renegade fair this past weekend. We’ll be selling them again, at $5 a pop, at the Hideout Holiday Sale on Tuesday, December 14 and 21, from 6-9 PM at … der, the Hideout.

But those 24 recipe cards are just the beginning. As part of our new Soupscription series, we’re planning on rolling out six new cards every month for all of 2011. There’s more info over on the Soupscription page, but we’ve already got recipes in the pipeline for January from chefs Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec, Publican, Big Star) and Jill Barron (Mana Food Bar), as well as some other Soup & Bread stalwarts, including my uncle Roger. Enroll now and for $60 you’ll get one of the original packs mentioned above, plus a new pack of recipes for five soups and one bread in the mail through November 2011, for a total of 60 soups and 12 breads. Each pack also comes with blank card, so you can create your own recipes as well. The button over there on the right takes you to our PayPal account, or sign up in person at the Hideout sale and we’ll hit you with a $10 discount.

AND, if you’re going to start collecting recipe cards, where better to put them than a handcrafted recipe box? We asked our friend Devon Bergman, who’s an ace cabinetmaker, if she wanted to throw together some boxes for us to sell. When we got a look at them earlier this week we were floored. They are so very beautiful — the photos don’t do them justice. Each box is handmade from repurposed wine crates and other salvaged wood and hardware. The one above has handles made from parts of an old piano she found in the alley.

This one has handles made from Champagne corks. The lid, which (obviously) you can’t see, is inlaid with part of a (bronze? copper?) soap mold. It reads, backwards, “Superfatted.” And, frankly, if someone doesn’t buy it soon it’s going home with me.

This one’s from Devon’s “farmhouse rustic” line, with the cute tin “4” on the lid and the seal from a dairy affixed to the front. The alley piano makes a return appearance here as well; piano hammers sanded as smooth as satin serve as the handles.

Here’s a better look at the boxes in action. Seven of them sold over the weekend (they’re $75 each, but they are so worth it) and we’ve got seven left in stock, though I believe Devon is putting the finishing touches on a few more. We will have them all at the Hideout on the 14th and the 21st, but we probably won’t be selling them through the website. If you’re interested in one and can’t make it out to the Hideout, drop me a line and we’ll try and set something up.

And, of course, we still have some of last year’s cookbooks left ($20) — though not very many! — as well as Soup & Bread aprons ($15) and an assortment of Alana Bailey’s awesome silkscreens of Paul’s illustrations from last year ($10).  As ever, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of all of this stuff goes to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. If there’s a soup fan in your life, you could do worse.

Soup and Bread 2011 starts January 5 and runs Wednesdays through mid-April at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. Soup’s on at 5:30 and served till 7:30 or we run out, whichever comes first. There’s never a cover and kids are always welcome.

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 cooks 3/17/10

March 12, 2010

This week, Soup and Bread gets jazzy. And, famous.

On board are ….

Immediate Sound Series curator Mitch Cocanig

Bassist Kent Kessler

Trea Fotidzis, who’s a friend of Mitch’s and is making *pickle soup*

Plus:

Soup and Bread’s very own Sheila Sachs

A return visit from Susannah Kite Strang

and, gulp, Paul Kahan

Donations benefit Inspiration Corporation — who may be bringing along some soup too. Not sure.