The Soup & Bread Cookbook Nourishes and Inspires


In the winter of 2009, food writer and Seattle native Martha Bayne was living in Chicago and working at The Hideout, an area dive bar


The Soup & Bread Cookbook Nourishes and Inspires

  • The Soup & Bread Cookbook Nourishes and Inspires

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    In the winter of 2009, food writer and Seattle native Martha Bayne was living in Chicago and working at The Hideout, an area dive bar and music club. Wednesday nights were the slowest night of the week, made worse by the poor economy. Bayne hatched a plan for warming the bellies and souls of those around her: Hit up friends that are good cooks and chefs and ask them to bring a couple of gallons of soup to the bar on Wednesday nights. She'd get the word out to the community, ask local bakeries to donate bread and put out a bucket to collect donations for local charities. Soup & Bread was born.

    Through the weekly Soup & Bread nights at The Hideout, and on-tour events in Brooklyn and Seattle, more than $15,000 has been raised for food banks, soup kitchens and other hunger relief agencies since its inception in 2009. And now, Bayne has published Soup & Bread Cookbook, an inspirational book that includes soup recipes, stories about soup traditions and the tradition of soup as vehicle for building community around the country.

    Each chapter in the Soup & Bread Cookbook serves as an example of how and where to serve soup. There's Soup at Home, Soup for Swapping, Soup for (More Than) Sustenance, Chili for Competition, Soup for Art, Soup for Spreading the Word, Soup for Peace, and Soup That Shines. While the recipes were contributed from a variety of chefs and other sources, Bayne introduces each chapter with stories about how soup is enjoyed around the world, or how it conjures community.

    There are stories about chili cook-offs at printmaking studios, arts centers, rock clubs, and of course the first chili cook-off at the Texas State Fair in Dallas in 1952.

    The headnotes for each recipe give a little background about the origin of that soup, its cultural significance, or when it was served at a Soup & Bread night. There are stories of immigrants from Ethiopia, West Africa, Haiti, and Marrakesh and how the traditional soups from their homelands offer fond memories of home.

    And then there are the recipes. There is chili with and without beans, Carbonnade Flamande from Belgium, pizza soup, Doro Wett from Ethiopia, lentil soup, Pozole from Mexico, chowder, and Khao Tom from Thailand. There is Cream of Mushroom from Seattleite and Soup Swap Day founder Knox Gardner. Some contributions come from notable chefs, like Pear, Parsnip and Pistachio Soup from Top Chef winner Stefanie Izard. There's Yellow Split Pea Soup from Paul Kahan of Chicago restaurants Publican, Blackbird, Avec, and Big Star. And Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's in Chicago, has contributed a recipe for Sausage Chili.

    Although this book is compact, it manages to pack the pages with interesting stories about the universality of soup, recipes for a variety of soups and about a dozen different breads, and sidebars on unique soups around the world, like Booyah from the upper Midwest--a stew of meat and vegetables cooked all day in large pots, sometimes over an open-fire, outdoors. And there is information about how to host your own Soup & Bread. Community Soup & Bread nights are not unlike the Stone Soup folk tale, where local villagers help hungry travelers fill a soup pot by making small contributions. The result is a large, nourishing pot of soup that can feed many. If everyone contributes just a little bit, many more will be fed.

    Martha Bayne will be in Seattle this week, hosting two Soup & Bread events around town. On Sunday, February 12 at Elliott Bay Book Company, there will be a free soup tasting at 2 p.m. Donations will benefit the Jewish Family Services food bank. At 6 p.m. on the same day there is an event at Radar Hair and Records to benefit for Rader co-owner Betsy Hansen's cancer fund. It will feature soups donated by Seattle musicians and Soup Swap-founder Knox Gardner, as well as live music by local band the Coconut Coolouts.

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