What is Soup & Bread?
Soup & Bread is a community meal project and a fun, grassroots way to raise money for hunger-relief organizations and other good causes.
What is Soup & Bread: Chicago?
Soup & Bread is based at the Hideout, a bar and music club in Chicago. Our Chicago series happens on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 8 pm, from early January through mid-April, and is organized by Martha Bayne and Sheila Sachs. Currently, there are also monthly Soup & Bread events held in the Chicago suburbs of Forest Park and Berwyn, as well as Ottawa, Ill., Columbus, Ohio, and Madison, Wisc.
Where’s the Hideout? Is there parking?
1354 W. Wabansia, just east of Elston Avenue and two blocks north of North Avenue. Do you know where the big Home Depot is on North? We’re just sorta tucked to the northwest of that. There is ample free parking.
Is there a cover?
There is no fixed cover. We ask for a pay-what-you-can donation for the food, but we don’t monitor your contribution, and won’t judge you if you’re skint. Each week we partner with a different neighborhood food pantry or hunger-relief organization, and pass along your donations to them. Over the last 5 + years we’ve raised more than $40,000.
So wait, this is at a bar? Can I bring my kids?
Yes, you can bring your kids, as long as they don’t drink 14 kiddie cocktails and start destroying the furniture in a corn-syrup-and-grenadine frenzy. In other words, as long as they are supervised by a parent or guardian.
Do I need to show up with soup?
NO. In fact, we’d rather you didn’t. Each week we schedule six to eight people ahead of time — both culinary professionals and enthusiastic amateurs — to cook and serve soup for you. The soup service area is small and our electrical system is a bit dodgy. We can’t handle more soup than that.
OK. But I make a mean soup. What do I have to do to get on this “schedule”? Is there a test?
No test. If you’d like to cook for Soup & Bread: Chicago simply email Martha at soupnbread10 [at] gmail [dot] com and let her know what date(s) you are available. She will get back to you and get you on the list. Our full schedule for the season is posted here, by the way. Give it a gander.
Can I bring bread? Or brownies?
That would be swell. We get bread donated every week by the fine people at Publican Quality Meats, but we’ll always take more. And desserts? Bring ‘em on. Every year at the end of the soup season we also host a “Soup & Pie” night. More on that to come down the road.
What’s this I hear about soup “themes”?
As we did last year, we are assigning each week of soup a theme to inspire cooks, focus their culinary genius, and hopefully generate a slew of new recipes. Some of these themes are culinary. Some are cultural. And some are just … well, you can see for yourself.
Jan 8: Fire v. Ice
Jan 15: Southern Comforts
Jan 22: The Woods
Jan 29: Minimalism
Feb 5: Mac v. Cheese
Feb 12: Love, Lust & Hate
Feb 19: The River
Feb: 26: Maximalism
March 5: Roots v. Sprouts
March 12: Daylight Savings Soup (aka “Lighten Up”)
March 19: The Hills
March 26: Herbalism
April 2: Rahm(en) v. Daley
April 9: Tastes Like Chicken
April 16: The Fields
I heard you wrote a book. What’s up with that?
It’s true. Our Soup & Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at at Time – written by Martha Bayne and designed by Sheila Sachs, with original illustrations by Paul Dolan — was published by Agate Publishing in November of 2011. It’s a collection of recipes from Soup & Bread paired with writing on the various ways people in Chicago and elsewhere are using soup (and food in general) to bring people together, raise money, and do cool things in the world. So far it’s been pretty well received. To see what some people have said about it, go to our Media page. To read a sample chapter, look here.
Wasn’t there a book before this one?
Yes. In 2009 we self-published a limited-edition cookbook after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It was spiral bound, with a letterpress cover, and – just to be confusing — it was also called the “Soup & Bread Cookbook.” But it’s a different book, with different recipes. It’s now out of print.
Are you writing another book?
Not currently. But we’re always collecting recipes and cooking up new ideas.
We’re not exactly the same thing, but we’re all fellow travelers. In fact, this abundance of soup-based fundraising projects was the inspiration for the Soup & Bread Cookbook. Empty Bowls makes an appearance in Chapter Three, and Martha wrote about Sunday Soup way back in 2011. This blog post eventually became Chapter Five.
Are you a soup kitchen? I mean, like, who comes to eat your soup?
We get a relatively diverse crowd each week: old and young, regulars and newbies. But while we don’t quiz people on their socioeconomic backgrounds, we are not directly serving “the hungry” (ie: those in need of supplemental food assistance). We are a bar, and a very small one at that. We don’t really have the physical infrastructure or the social service capacity to effectively serve a truly needy population. What we are doing is raising money for those who do and can.
Are you a registered 501 C-3 nonprofit?
We are not. Not yet at least.
Can my band play at Soup & Bread?
This is all super cool. Can I get involved somehow?
Thank you so much for saying that. We don’t have a huge need for volunteers at the event right now, but we are rather desperately in need of some back-end assistance. If you are a lawyer, accountant, aspiring food writer, or an IT genius, let’s talk.
What if I want to do my own Soup & Bread?
Go for it! It’s easy — we have helped others stage pop-up Soup & Bread events in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Nashville, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Seattle, and there are currently ongoing Soup & Bread series’ running in Forest Park, Berwyn, Ottawa, Ill., Columbus, Ohio, and in Madison, Wisc. Unlike the Hideout series, these events happen monthly. Because the organizers are not insane. If you decide to start one of your own, please get in touch. Here’s how to begin. We’re happy to advise/help at whatever level appropriate