Soup & Bread Cookbook is a cookbook for our times. That’s ironic, given that the book is a collection of recipes prepared for crowded indoor gatherings: the Soup & Bread events that warmed cozy Chicago music venue The Hideout on Wednesday evenings pre-COVID-19. Before the pandemic, that democratic meal project rallied a community of amateur and professional cooks. They came bearing gallons of soup for attendees who offered free-will donations to benefit hunger-relief organizations. With that model, Soup & Bread has raised $100,000 since 2008.
Yesterday, Belt Publishing released a new edition of the group’s cookbook, dusted off and slightly updated since its initial release in 2011. Royalties will benefit hunger-relief efforts in Chicago. My copy of the first edition is dog-eared, broth-splattered, and totally indispensable—now more so than ever. The recipes, from West African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup to comforting Cheddar Cheese and Beer Soup (from Wisconsin’s Kewaunee Inn) keep me from falling into a rut—and pair well with pandemic-era sourdough while bringing to mind many happy gatherings in Chicago. Ahead of the re-release, I called author and Soup & Bread founder Martha Bayne.