Posts Tagged ‘swim cafe’

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.

 

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.

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.”

Soup cooks on parade

January 16, 2011

Yes, it’s a little dark. But check out this all-star lineup of cooks from January 12! Don’t they look cute in their regulation Soup & Bread aprons? From left: Camille Severino, Art Jackson, a representative from Hull-House whose name I have tragically forgotten, Christopher Sullivan and Arden, Niall Munnelly, and Diana Ryan, from Team Swim, dishing up Michael Slaboch‘s soup while he was busy in the DJ booth. Thanks so much to all!

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.

Artichoke, Pea, and Leek Soup

May 3, 2010

From Swim Cafe

[Ed: Recipe #2 from our friends at Swim Cafe. When you’re stuck in the dismal dregs of winter, frozen artichokes and peas let you get a taste of what lies ahead. But, as owner Karen Gerod says, “This always tastes like spring to me – but if you can get fresh baby artichokes and fresh peas in the pod, that is pretty much the bomb!”

Ingredients

3 large leeks, scrubbed and sliced
2 packages frozen artichoke hearts (we use Trader Joes) sliced
2 packages frozen petit pois (TJ’s again)
1 pint veggie stock
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 cup heavy cream
4 mint leaves, minced fine
salt and lots of fresh ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Sweat the leeks in the butter. Add half the artichoke hearts, and cook 5 minutes. Add the veggie stock. At this point, use an immersion blender to puree, or puree in batches in a blender. Add the remaining artichoke hearts, peas, heavy cream, mint, salt, and pepper. Simmer another minute and serve.

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.

Vegan Red Pepper Soup

April 13, 2010

From Swim Cafe

[Ed: This was just deee-licious, the crisp flavors of red pepper and asparagus balanced over a sweet base of coconut milk. Coconut milk’s an underappreciated staple of vegan cooking; henceforth I shall give it the respect it so richly deserves.]

Ingredients

3 cans coconut milk
3 red bell peppers
juice of one lemon
1 celery stalk
1 whole red onion
1/3 bunch asparagus
1 pint vegetable broth
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoon coriander
1 mint leaf, chopped fine
7 – 8 basil leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Heat olive oil to point of fragrance. Saute garlic, 2 diced red peppers, celery and onion in the oil; add vegetable broth and blend until smooth. Add coconut milk, lemon juice, coriander, and herbs.

Roughly chop the remaining red pepper; sweat over low heat. Blanch and shock the asparagus; chop into approximately one-inch lengths.

Add the vegetables to the soup, season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer at least 10 minutes.