Hey girl. Sorry I’ve been so distant — I know we haven’t talked in a while. Did you miss me? I sure missed you. You’re looking good. Did you get a haircut?
OK, so, yeah. I’m way behind on the soup blogging. Frankly, there’s no way to efficiently recap the last few weeks. I don’t know that it’s even worth trying, but here are some keywords: NY vs. LA soup night!* Soup & Bread benefit with Theater Oobleck. Deadlines. Culinary Historians of Chicago. Snowstorm. More deadlines. AWP Boston. More snow. Soups from the Ground!** Deathly laryngitis. And that brings us to last night, a night I’ve been looking forward to all winter, the night of “Noodles, Dumplings, and Kreplach – Oh My!”
Half of Chicago may be at SXSW, but the other half all seemed to be in need of some noodle soup. We had a full house last night, and thankfully plenty of fantastic dough-laden soup, from Vera chef Mark Mendez’s spicy, hearty fideo (something he likes to serve for staff meal) to University of Chicago events chef Katherine August’s amazingly flavorful shiitake mushroom soup with pancetta-rice dumplings, her take on a Lithuanian classic that’s traditional around Easter — though as she noted, true Lent-observing Lithuanians wouldn’t include the pancetta.
In between these pros, who both came armed with serious vats of soup, we had a great set of other options. Chicago Writers Conference founder Mare Swallow tarted up a Rachael Ray recipe to create a fresh but hearty spring vegetable soup with dumplings; author and dancer Maggie Kast channeled her Austrian mother-in-law to produce a traditional griesnockerlsuppe — buttery farina dumplings floating in a clear, flavorful beef and chicken broth. Sarah Dandelles tried her hand at a vegan and gluten-free mushroom stroganoff soup which wound up a bit “smoked” in the end game, but gets major points for ambition. Wine-pert Erin Drain brought a thick and oh-so-rich Pennsylvania Dutch pot pie soup, made with wide Amish noodles and lots of delicious, unskimmed chicken fat. And baker Gillian McLennan turned out a tasty sweet onion soup studded with tiny, perfectly turned out goat-cheese dumplings.
It was a night of excess all around. Usually, we ask our partnering food pantry to send over a few volunteers early in the evening to help slice bread and set up. If we’re lucky we get two or three people — but the overachievers at Bridgeport’s Benton House sent a busload of 17 college students from Missouri, who’d come up to Chicago on a social-service oriented spring break. Thanks guys! We so appreciated all the extra hands, even if we weren’t sure what to do with you all. By the end of the night we’d raised $565 for the Benton House food pantry, and it didn’t even seem like work.
Coming up next week: It’s another geographic showdown–this one transcontinental. Are you ready for soutps pitting Paris against Tokyo? Our soup cooks include Chicagoist editor Chuck Sudo and a return visit from the good people at Vera, plus Alana Zaritz, Rebecca Lyon and Justin Dennis, Bari Singh and Emily Bouchard, Sam Zelitch, Justin Jackson, and Bradley Newman, executive chef at the University of Chicago’s Quadrangle Club. Our DJ next week is our own Ryan Hembrey. Pay-what-you-can donations benefit Common Threads, which teaches cooking and nutrition to low-income kids.
Look forward to seeing you then — and bring all your cute friends, eh? We’ve got so much catching up to do.
* NY vs. LA recipes pending
** Ditto those recipes for Soups from the GroundPosted: Thursday Mar 14,2013 12:24 PM In Soup Wrapup