I am partnering with my friend Sheila Sachs, award-winning former art director at the Chicago Reader, to produce a limited-edition cookbook of recipes from this past year's Soup and Bread, a free weekly soup dinner presented at the Hideout, a bar and music venue in Chicago.
Here's how it worked: Hideout staff and regulars and local musicians, writers, cooks, and artists donated pots of homemade soup each week. We heated them up in crock pots on the bar and served them in the finest thrift-store china, along with donated day-old bread and the occasional loaf, pie, or cookies baked by enterprising participants. It was designed to be an easy, low-key way to get folks out of the house and socializing in the dead of darkest winter -- because, seriously, have you BEEN to Chicago in January? Not to mention, our friends were losing their jobs left and right; at times last year it seemed the entire city could have used a nice hot bowl of soup. Toward that end, while the meal was free, we also set out a donations bucket, into which people were free to toss a dollar or two or ten. We collected $2,771 over three months, all of which was donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository (http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org) to help feed people who are truly hungry.
We got some nice press for this endeavor; here's one story to give you the big picture:
I also documented the entire project on a blog at http://soupnbread.wordpress.com. The blog is currently full of info on our summer bingo games (a whole other story!) but spend ten minutes poking around the pre-April 1 posts and you'll get a feel for the scope and texture of what we were up to. Some good posts to start with are this:
Occasionally I'd write a bit about other soup-inspired projects, or what we were doing with the money we raised:
But the beating heart of the blog was, and remains, recipes for soup -- and sometimes bread.
This is where you come in.
The Soup and Bread cookbook will be small, probably 6" x 8", and spiral-bound, with original illustrations by Paul Dolan (http://www.dolandesign.com) and a handsome letterpress cover. The plan is to have bound books in hand by December, to sell at holiday gift sales and then over the course of Soup and Bread 2010, which starts up again on January 6. We are hoping to raise enough money via this Kickstarter thing to cover our print costs. We are not expecting to get rich -- in fact, after we recoup expenses, profits from further sales will be donated to the Food Depository -- but we would prefer not to get any poorer for our efforts. Thus, Kickstarter!
When people ask, I usually describe Soup and Bread as an "everybody wins" type of project -- diners get food; cooks get glory (seriously!); the Hideout gets business, the Food Depository gets money (and, in turn, its clients get food); and everyone gets out of the house and has a good time. Los Angeles-based writer and "urban homesteader" Erik Knutzen said the same thing more concisely a few months ago. "Soup and Bread is permaculture," he told me -- and he's right. Because what is permaculture other than the creation of a self-sustaining, mutually beneficial system?
We hope that you, the Kickstarter donor, can appreciate the simple elegance of this system, and help us build the next component. Let us know if you have any questions!
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