Who doesn’t love soup? It’s nutritious, inexpensive, and there are so many kinds! Soup can be an earthy meal in a chipped pottery bowl or an elegant palate cleanser frothed into a porcelain cup. It can showcase the explosive flavor of fresh spring peas or provide refuge for tired celery and stale bread. Soup soothes the sick, it nourishes the poor -- and it tricks children into eating their veggies. And perhaps more than any other food, soup can be a powerful tool for building community.
I learned all this and more when I launched Soup & Bread, a free weekly gathering in Chicago, during the bleak winter of 2009. Back then I was broke, bored, and bartending at a music club called the Hideout. The recession was hitting hard; my friends and neighbors were losing their jobs. At times, when I looked around, it seemed the whole city could use a nice bowl of soup. So I thrifted a bunch of Crock-Pots and invited a handful of people to come by the bar to eat.