Posts Tagged ‘Susannah Kite Strang’

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.


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.”

Vegetable Minestrone

March 22, 2010

From Susannah Kite Strang

Serves 6-8

[Ed:  Says Susannah, “This recipe’s kind of a behemoth; I had to change the name from  “easy minestrone …”. But the results are well worth all the chopping, crushing, smashing, and stirring. A hearty soup with a complex flavor you don’t often taste in veggie broth, it was also quite thick. Take heed of that final note re: adding liquid during reheating.]


3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, any variety
*1 med-large rutabaga
*2-3 medium parsnips (or enough to make about a cup finely chopped)
2-3 med-large carrots (or enough to make about a cup finely chopped)
3 celery ribs
1 large or 2 medium potatoes, any kind but baking
2 bay leaves
½ cup dried lentils
¼ cup tomato paste
2+ quarts water or vegetable stock (Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has excellent stock instructions)
1 28 oz. can whole Italian tomatoes
** 2-4 rinds from Parmigiano reggiano or similar hard grating cheese
*about 1 cup chick peas (canned, fresh, or dried/prepared)
*about 1 cup cannellini beans (canned, fresh, or dried/prepared)
*about 1 cup red beans, any kind (canned, fresh, or dried/prepared)
4 cloves garlic finely diced
*6-8 oz. whole wheat rotini, smashed to bits with a wine bottle (any small pasta will work, but this is fun—just cover with a towel so the bits don’t hit you in the eye)
1 handful parsley, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh spinach or other cooking greens; radish tops work well
1-2 tsp fresh or dried oregano
salt and pepper
pinch red pepper flakes

*Starred ingredients can be omitted or replaced with stuff you have on hand: hard squash, summer squash/zucchini, celeriac, different colored potatoes; any kind of fresh or canned beans; bulgur, quinoa or rice blends for the pasta. Add water/spices as necessary to balance broth level.

**For a vegan soup, use a few tablespoons of soy sauce and a small amount of brewer’s yeast to approximate the flavor from the cheese rinds.


Begin by chopping the onion, carrot, celery, rutabaga, and potato to a medium/fine dice. You can leave the scrubbed skin of organic carrots and potatoes on if you prefer; they lend a deeper flavor to the broth.

Heat olive oil in the bottom of a large soup pot. When the oil is hot add the onions and sauté 5-8 minutes. Add everything else you have chopped so far plus the bay leaves; let cook together, lid on, for about15 minutes—stir occasionally.

Add about a teaspoon of salt, the tomato paste, the pinch of red pepper flakes and the lentils, and sauté with the vegetables for 5 minutes or so, stirring to combine.

Add the liquid, bring to a boil, and reduce to a high simmer for about 20 minutes until lentils are tender.

Add the tomatoes by pouring through your hand and thoroughly crushing each tomato as it enters the soup. Follow with the cheese rinds, beans, and garlic; bring to a simmer for about ½ hour to allow flavors to combine and develop. A longer cooking can be nice if you have time—periodically check to make sure nothing is getting too mushy; add liquid and or salt if necessary to balance the broth.

Bring to a high simmer, add the pasta and cook for about 15 minutes. At this stage as the pasta absorbs some of the liquid, the broth should be thick, flavorful, and reddish-opaque. Add more liquid if necessary as the pasta will continue to suck it up for a while, gaining the flavor as it cooks (some strongly advocate for using precooked pasta to avoid broth absorption and floppy pasta; as long as the pasta is small, I think bulked-up pasta bits are one of the unique pleasures of minestrone, but precook the pasta if you prefer).

In the last 10 minutes or so, add the parsley and greens, and adjust seasonings including the red pepper flakes.

You can serve plain or with a shaving of Parmesan. This soup keeps well, but may need an infusion of liquid during reheating.

The Color of Money Soup, two versions

March 20, 2010

From Susannah Kite Strang

Serves 6-8

[Ed: Susannah was all set to make minestrone on March 10, but was running so late that Wednesday that she ditched her plans in favor of this quick-and-easy pea soup which, she notes, entails “less than 1/2 hour prep time (unless you are shelling peas!).” I’m not sure whether she made the basic or fancypants version, but in either case it was a straight shot of vibrant, fresh spring-pea flavor even if, in her case, they were fresh from the freezer. And, because she still had all the minestrone fixins, we had her back the following week as well. That recipe’s hopefully coming soon.]

A) Little Lotto


2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 pounds frozen peas
2 quarts veggie broth (or 1 broth, 1 water)
1 large handful flat leaf parsley
2-3 teaspoons dried mint (optional)
salt, white pepper, sugar, to taste

Heat the butter in a soup pot until foaming, then saute the onion until soft.

Pour in the peas, and cover to thaw.

Once thawed, remove the lid, add the mint if using, and saute for 5 minutes, until the peas are plump, the mint is fragrant, and everything is thoroughly hot.

Pour in the liquid, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, tear up the parsley and toss in– simmer together for 5 minutes or so.

In a blender, puree the soup in batches,  then return to the pot and reheat to just below a simmer.

Add seasonings to taste, then serve plain, with lemon, or with a swirl of thick yogurt and a dot of Asian hot sauce like Sriracha.

B) Mega-Millions Jackpot


3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2-3 shallots, chopped
1 large or 2 small leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 one-pound bags frozen peas
(yes you can use 2 pounds of shelled fresh peas, but in that case I would just saute them in butter, sprinkle them with  chopped mint, and forget the soup!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 quarts water
1 large handful flat leaf parsley
1 small handful fresh mint
additional salt, white pepper, sugar, to taste


Heat the butter in a soup pot until foaming, then saute the shallots/leeks until soft.

Pour in the peas, and cover to thaw (skip this step for fresh peas).

Once thawed, remove the lid and saute for 5 minutes, until the peas are plump and thoroughly hot. Add the teaspoon each of salt and  sugar as the peas are cooking.

Pour in the liquid, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, tear up the parsley and mint and toss in– simmer together for 5 minutes or so.

Use a food mill or blender to puree the soup in batches. Alternatively, finely chop shallot/leek and herbs prior to adding, and thoroughly use a potato masher to create a more textured soup.

Return the blended soup to the pot, and reheat to just below a simmer. Add additional seasonings to taste.

Serve plain, with lemon, or with a swirl of creme fraiche and a dot of Asian hot sauce like Sriracha.

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.

Week 10

March 15, 2010

I’m back! Did you miss me?

I spent a very long weekend covering the big FamilyFarmed Expo for the Reader; if you’re curious you can read about backyard chickens,  shared-use kitchens, and more here. But, as a result, all pending soup coverage had to go on the back burner. (Sorry.)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was a sneaky maneuver on my part to get other people to do the work for me. Soup cook Bonnie Tawse, who brought a terrific vegetarian tortilla soup adapted from Rick Bayless’s Authentic Mexican, has a great wrap-up of the evening over on her blog.

Pictured above are our lovely cooks for the night. From left to right, we’ve got dancer and author Maggie Kast, who wrote  a bit about Soup and Bread over on her own food blog as well. Her cauliflower-watercress soup was great — the coziness of cauliflower nicely cut by the light and fresh ‘cress — and those breadsticks were the bomb.

Next to Maggie is Charlie Hall, who remains a man of mystery, as he arrived with a late-breaking green chile soup and then disappeared before I had a moment to come say thanks. Thanks, Charlie!

Next to Charlie is Bonnie, and in the middle is David Kodeski, who last year whipped up a pair of borschts from some old family recipes, and provided said recipes heavily annotated, in the style of his ‘pa. This year he made a cazuela, a Chilean chicken soup with nine zillion vegetables, served over mashed potato dumplings. Way to slack off, Kodeski.

Danielle Marvit, from Mint Creek Farm, wrote up a little preview of her Soup and Bread plans, and then followed through with a stupendous mutton stew, rich, hearty, and with rosemary just bustin’ out all over.

And, over on the end Susannah Kite Strang offered a little preview of spring, with a vibrant fresh pea soup topped with yogurt. This is the easiest soup ever, she says. If I remember correctly, it’s just peas, cream, and a tiny bit of broth. And maybe some … onion?

In any case, I’ve got recipes for many of these soups in hand already, and should have them up soon, along with those for the olive ciabatta and cornbread Luke Joyner, of stout soup fame, brought in as a last-minute surprise.

Somehow I neglected to let the good people at  Benton House know we were doing this (usually I give the beneficiaries a heads-up) but, through the magic of the internet, they found out anyway. Executive director Mark Lennon and some of the staff came and ate with us, and went home with a tidy $429. Thanks for coming out! Sorry I wasn’t more organized!

This week’s soup donations go to Inspiration Corporation. They will be joining us, along with a very exciting roster of cooks, on Wednesday, March 17, from 5:30 to 8. See you there, yah? No green plastic hats required.

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*


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.

Soup cooks 3/10/10

March 4, 2010

Ooh, next week should be fun. On crock pot duty:

Writer, performer, and borscht master David Kodeski

Bonnie Tawse, director of environmental programs for the Lurie Garden

Author and dancer Maggie Kast

Artist and high school teacher (and dumpling-soup-maker) Susannah Kite Strang

Charlie Hall … who is, so far, a mystery


Mint Creek Farm’s Danielle Marvit, who blogged about her plans for Soup and Bread earlier this week.

Donations generated by this awesomely eclectic bunch of soup cooks go to support the food pantry at Benton House, in Bridgeport. See you next week!