Posts Tagged ‘rae hill’

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.


Week seven

February 19, 2010

February 17, 2010: The night of no vegetarian soups.

I’d like to just take a moment to address the issue, which most of you were pretty gracious about, though a few were a little miffed.

Every week I try to ensure that there will be at least one vegetarian soup on the roster. But, as the cooks are volunteering their time and their ingredients, I don’t feel it’s right to tell them what to make. This is supposed to be fun and fulfilling for cooks and eaters in equal measure!

That said, this week was an anomaly. Two cooks dropped out at the last minute: one I knew was a vegetarian, the other I’m not sure about, but, regardless, I was scrambling to make sure we had enough of *anything* to eat this Wednesday. The vegetarian thing?  It fell through the cracks.

So I am very, very sorry if anyone came to Soup and Bread this week and was disappointed. We certainly don’t want anyone to go away hungry! But I do also feel that the unscripted, roll-the-dice-and-take-your-chances aspect of Soup and Bread menu planning is part of the deal. I mean, it’s free soup. Some weeks we wind with 6 vegetarian soups; other weeks (like this one) even the purest-looking stews have chicken stock hiding beneath their chickpea and lentil trappings. What’s a girl to do?

L-R: Tamiz, Chuck, Andrea, Luke, and Megan

Anyway — as I said, most people were gracious about this weird fluke. And the soup we did have was awesome. On with the recap!

On deck:

Tamiz Haiderali, chef and owner of Treat Restaurant, with a creammmmy goat cheese bisque.

Chicagoist food and drink editor Chuck Sudo, with smoky chicken and sausage gumbo. Sadly, his hoped-for cornbread decided to stick to the pan and stay home.  Sometimes food has a mind of its own.

Lost in the Supermarket‘s dynamic duo of Andrea Deibler and Allison Stout, with their own corn muffins and some seriously beefy chili (though, I thought they were bringing potato-leek soup?).

Writer, designer, and caterer Luke Joyner, who at one point told me he was cooking up some roasted garlic soup, instead whipped up one of our most x-treme soups ever, a dark, funky, turkey-and-stout soup served with pistachios, fresh raspberries, and chocolate chips.  Whoa. He also brought some homemade ciabatta.

And, holding down the end over there, registered dietician and Chicagoist writer Megan Tempest, with a protein-packed Moroccan chickpea and lentil stew. (Check out her nice writeup here.)

I should have recipes for this wild and woolly bunch of soups up soon — and breads too, I promise. I have a major backlog of recipes provided by busy baker Rae Hill that I still need to transcribe. (Did I mention that I’ve also been floored by this damn cold that’s going around?) But, that rockin’ Parmesan bread is first up, I swear.

This week Chef Kraus’s class generously provided 15 loaves (!), a mix of Normandy Apple, Sweet Rustic, and Country Wheat breads. This was a hearty supplement to the baguettes and ciabatta donated by our friends at La Farine Bakery. They don’t have a website, but Here’s a good overview of their outfit from LTH Forum’s happy_stomach, who’s spearheading plans for an all-LTH Soup and Bread night on March 24.

Celeste and Devon also came by with truffles and bacon pralines (!!) left over from Celeste’s Valentine’s Day sale and tasting last weekend at Juicy Wine Company. I couldn’t make it out of bed to attend, but she says there may be another one in the works for next month. We’ll keep you posted. Because, holy cr*p those truffles were good.

Also in the house, Erin Stephens, director of volunteers for Lakeview Pantry, on whose behalf we raised a whopping $551, setting another new Soup and Bread record.  Frankly, folks, it didn’t *seem* that crowded — I can only guess that even the disappointed vegetarians tossed a little somethin’ in the pot. Otherwise where’d all that cash come from? (Seriously, you people rule.)

And, that’s all for this week. Next week: so much vegetarian soup the carnivores will revolt. I promise. And I’ll post that schedule soon.

Week 6

February 13, 2010

L-R: Hugh, Roger, Robin, Kelly, the masked souper

Thanks to the snow we had a small but cheery turnout this week — which just meant there was plenty of soup to go around! And, thanks to my poor communication skills, we were down one soup from the planned six, but, thankfully, Mike Sula covered the gap with a surprise second soup that … well … I think he’s going to write about it eventually so I’ll won’t steal his thunder. Let’s just say it was a Soup and Bread first. And very boney.

Mike’s already provided the recipe and backstory for his other soup, a Slovak mushroom-sauerkraut concoction adapted from a recipe pinched by his father’s cleaning lady from her sisters-in-law, over on the Reader’s food blog. I’ll get that up over here  whenever I get over this godawful cold and manage to dig out from under a sudden avalanche of recipes. Not that I’m complaining. Bring on the recipes!

Also on deck:

The talented and eloquent Hugh Amano, of Food on the Dole, with a pork dumpling soup built around a Frankenstein’s stock of pork neck, chicken bones, extra lamb stock, and dashi.

Personal chef Roger Greene, with Linguisa Sausage, Cheddar Cheese, and Oranjeboom Lager Beer Soup, possibly the most snowstorm-friendly pot ever.

The Vegetarian Librarian Kelly Reiss, with not just a hearty vegan white bean soup but delicious vegan cornbread and adorable preprinted recipe cards to boot. The recipe’s already up on her own blog, over here.

And, last but not least, Sound Opinions producer and soup fan Robin Linn, whose roasted garlic soup with spinach and Parmesan was really terrific. In her words, “Not suitable for Valentine’s Day, but great for colds.” I wish I had some right now.

We also had a dense, rich chocolate tart baked by Celeste, and lots of bread donated by our friends at La Farine Bakery on Chicago Avenue, as well as breads and cheesecakes from Rae Hill and her fellow students at Illinois Institute of Art. Rae’s given me a pile of bread recipes to transcribe, and let me tell you the very first one is going to be for the amazing Parmesan bread. Seriously, Rae. People were moaning.

As I said, it was a mellow crowd, but those who did manage to dig out and make it to the bar also dug deep into their pockets. I was pleasantly surprised to empty the donations bucket and find $250 in there. It’s all going to Casa Catalina, the food pantry run by Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Back of the Yards. Thanks, y’all.

See you next week!

Yeast-free Vegan Bread

February 1, 2010

From Rae Hill

[Ed: Honestly, I am not at all sure this is the correct photo. But is sure is pretty.]


2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cups almond milk or water (works with any liquid)
1/4 cup olive oil (you can also use melted milk-free margarine, vegetable oil, or any other liquid fat, instead of olive oil)


Mix all dry ingredients together and set aside. Then combine milk and oil together and mix liquids into dry.
Stir just until the flour is incorporated and you can no longer see dry granules.
Depending on the humidity of the air where you live you may need a little bit more or less liquid.
The dough should be moist but not sticky, let the dough sit for 3 or 4 minutes to allow the flour to fully absorb the liquid, do not rush to add liquid or flour to it the dough. Make sure not to over stir the dough or your bread will be tough.

Dust a baking sheet with flour, then oil your hands; this will keep the dough from sticking to them. Take the dough and shape it into a ball and place on baking pan. Score the surface in a diamond or X shape to prevent splitting of the crust.

Bake for 40 minutes at 400F.

Cream o’ Sweet Potato Soup

January 12, 2010

From Rae Hill

Serves 6-8


2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth, you may use vegetable broth for vegetarian option
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups half and half
2 tablespoons 100% maple syrup
the leafy tops of the celery stalks, chopped


Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Then add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery stalks and leek, sauté about 5 minutes or until slightly soften and start to turn translucent. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add sweet potatoes, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg then turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Once soup begins to boil reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, you should be able to crush them with a wooden spoon about 20 minutes.

Remove the cinnamon stick. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth and return to pot.

Add half and half, maple syrup and reserved cinnamon stick, stir over medium-low heat until heated through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

You can prepare this a day ahead of time. Before refrigerating cool the soup slightly, then cover the soup loosely and refrigerate. Bring the soup to simmer before serving. Garnish with celery leaves and a fresh shaving of nutmeg.

New year, new soups

January 8, 2010

I was worried. I confess. Will it snow? Will a gas main break? Will people get sick of soup and move on to something else? Waffles, perhaps?

I should just chill. Soup and Bread, season two, kicked off Wednesday evening with gusto, with more cooks on board, and a really nice turnout of both old friends and new faces. Above, Rae Hill digs into a bowl of simple fish soup, which I made from a recipe provided by Kickstarter donor (and my uncle) Roger Simon, whose donation to our cookbook project ensures him a place in the annals of 2010 soup history.

Rae herself, who’s both a second-year culinary student and the resident baker at Bite Cafe, produced a pot of blazing orange sweet potato soup, which tasted amazing … like a sweet potato pie run through a blender with cream and chicken stock. She also brought several warm loaves of  sweetly mild milk bread, which were a particular hit with the more junior attendees. (She made it last  year as well; the recipe’s on page 116 of the book.) And, if that wasn’t enough, she produced a loaf (or two?) of vegan bread … the ingredients for which I promptly forgot even as I was telling myself, “You should really write this down.” She’s developing new vegan bread recipes for work, and plans to test-drive them with us over the next few months, so be sure and let her know what you think. Next week, she may even have comment cards.

Here’s a wide view of what we had on offer. Over on the far end is Rae’s sweet potato concoction; next to it is “La Zahra’s Moroccan Harira Hemda,” which Shana Pearlmutter cooked up in collaboration with her mother-in-law, who recently moved here from Morocco to help care for the newest member of their family, baby Brahim. Here’s a photo. Aren’t they cute?

Next to Shana and La Zahra’s soup is a piquant vegan sweet-and-sour meatball soup from Swim Cafe. Yes, vegan meatballs. Haven’t you ever heard of seitan? And to the right of that is Zach Kaplan‘s winter minestrone, a tasty offering built on a base of pancetta stock and chock full of hearty beans and pasta. Last but so totally not least is Celeste Dolan‘s Thai eggplant and chicken soup, which was allegedly delicious but gone before I got my bowl out. Lucky for me (and you), Celeste wins the promptness prize and I should be posting the recipe shortly the recipe is posted here. She and her partner Devon also turned up with bread whipped up not by the professional baker, but by baking novice Devon — including a caramelized onion bread for which I am rabidly tracking down the recipe, the recipe for which can be found here.  It’s made by kneading onion marmalade (!) into the dough just before baking.

These two also brought cupcakes, modeled below by Sheila and young Henry Hinschliff.

Most importantly, we raised $252 in donations for the food pantry at St. John Berchman’s in Logan Square. Just as a reminder, this year we are aiming to give Soup and Bread monies directly to neighborhood food pantries and soup kitchens; if you know of a worthy organization, please drop me a line and I’ll get them on the list.

Recipes and next week’s schedule coming soon. In the meantime, a few random remaining photos:

Vera snags a cupcake.

Blurry Celeste models her limited-edition S&B apron.

Beckett performs clam puppet theater.

The littlest soup fans ever pose for the camera.

And I try, in vain, not to freak out.

See you next week!

Soup Night 2010: It Begins

December 30, 2009

Really? It’s (almost) January already?


Thankfully, we’ve got an exciting line-up of all-stars and newbies alike on deck for the first Soup and Bread of the New Year. Coming to a crock pot near you, next Wednesday, January 6:

Our vegetarian friends at Swim Cafe

Celeste Dolan, of the terrific Celestial Kitchens

Artist and educator Shana Pearlmutter (with, I believe, help from her Moroccan mother-in-law, of whose cooking I have heard nothing but rave reviews)

Los Angeles transplant Zachary Kaplan, whom our mutual friend Aandrea has been telling me to get to know for months, but I’m apparently so self-centered I have to rope him into my project to make it actually happen.

Baker, culinary student, and new Soup and Bread partner Rae Hill (more on this soon)

And … me, cooking on behalf of awesome Kickstarter donor Roger Simon, from a recipe he’s providing.

Please note we have a NEW START TIME of 5:30 PM — giving us a little more time to set up and those of you with jobs (jobs? what are those?) a little more time to get to the Hideout. Other than that, tho, it’s the same as it ever was: Hot soup, tasty bread, and a chance to shake off your Seasonal Affective Disorder for an hour or two in the company of some lovely people — and raise money for a good cause to boot.

This year we’re targeting neighborhood food pantries and soup kitchens as recipients of your generous donations. All the money raised this first week goes to the St. John Berchmans Food Pantry in Logan Square. If you know of a food pantry or other provider of emergency food assistance in need (and, aren’t they all?), please let me know (soupnbread10 [at] gmail [dot] com) and I’ll get them in the rotation.

Thanks — and see you next Wednesday at the Hideout.

Cream of Artichoke Soup

April 4, 2009



From Rae Hill

Serves 8


The hearts from 5 large artichokes
7 Tbsp butter
1 medium size leek, white-and-light green part, sliced and rinsed
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped shallots (or yellow onion, if shallots aren’t available)
8 oz of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
12 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs of parsley
1/4 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1/2 cup of cream
Salt to taste

1 Prepare the artichoke hearts. Cut the artichokes lengthwise into
quarters. With a small knife, remove the thistle choke part and
discard. Cut away the leaves from the artichoke heart and reserve for
steaming and eating later. Cut or peel away the tough outside skin of
the stems and discard. Slice the hearts or chop to a quarter inch

2 In a large pot, melt half of the butter and cook the artichoke
hearts, leek, garlic, and shallots on medium heat until tender but not
brown. Add the potatoes and stock. Tie up the bay leaf, thyme,
parsley, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and add to the pot. Increase
heat to bring to a simmer, then lower heat and continue to simmer
uncovered, 1 hour.

3 Remove and discard the herbs. Purée the soup and pass it through a
fine strainer if desired. When ready to serve, heat the soup and whisk
in the remaining butter and the cream. Season with salt and serve.