Soup and Bread

Soup & Bread 2020: FAQ


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 January 8 through April 1, There are also monthly Soup & Bread event held in  Traverse City, Mich.; Cleveland, Ohio, and Oslo, Norway, plus occasional events in Seattle, Milwaukee, Ottawa, Ill., Madison, Wisc., and elsewhere.

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 tucked to the northwest of that. There is free street parking.

Is there a cover?

There is no set 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 eleven years we’ve raised more than $90,000.

So wait, this is at a bar? Can I bring my kids?

Yes, you can bring your kids, as long as they are supervised by a parent or guardian.

Can I bring my dog? 


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 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. We ask cooks to prepare 2-3 gallons of soup — any kind of soup! — and to bring it hot (or close enough). We provide crock pots, ladles, bowls, and spoons.

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 cookbook?

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. To see what some people have said about it, go to our Media page. To read a sample chapter, look here. UPDATE: Book is now out of print.

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 going to do another book?

We’d like to do another book someday, organized around the theme of “Sanctuary Soup,” and are in the process of collecting recipes and stories. Time and funding are still an issue. If you have thoughts on how to help with this, please get in touch.

This sounds a lot like these Sunday Soup events I’ve heard about on NPR and in the New York Times. And also like the Empty Bowls Project. Are you the same thing? What’s with all the soup?

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, who comes to eat your soup?

We get a diverse crowd each week: old and young, regulars and newbies. But while we don’t quiz people on why they’re here, we are not directly serving those in need of supplemental food assistance. Our events are at 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, buy you can still donate to Soup & Bread via our PayPal account if you are so moved.

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 do need soup cooks. Email soupnbread10 [at] gmail to get on the list.

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, Seattle, and elsewhere. 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.