Community Soup Night warms the soul

Who doesn’t love soup and spending time with the people in the community? Slow Food Lake Tahoe and Tahoe Food Hub in collaboration with local restaurants have brought back Community Soup Night.

Soup night promotes the use of seasonal and locally grown food grown within 100 miles of the Tahoe-Truckee region and benefits the two nonprofits, according to Slow Food Lake Tahoe board member Cheryl Schrady. Both Tahoe Food Hub and Slow Food Lake Tahoe are committed to creating a more sustainable food community. 

Slow Food Lake Tahoe manages the Truckee Demonstration Garden and holds workshops throughout the year on topics such as how to raise chickens, make bone broth or grow onions and garlic. Tahoe Food Hub operates the Farm Shop at the base of Alpine Meadows Road and supplies many local restaurants with fresh produce and sustainable products. The local restaurants that host soup nights donate space; the chefs who prepare the food donate their time. 

“The chef uses vegetables that are in season and available from Tahoe Food Hub,” says Schrady.

“I draw from [Tahoe] Food Hub’s seasonality and the different things they have available and look at flavor profiles that are similar.”  –Chef Tom Marrin

Guests can see and taste for themselves how to incorporate some of the more unique vegetables such as rutabaga, turnips, celery root or other less understood produce. Kale and white bean soup, butternut ginger and hearty vegetable soup have all been featured at soup night events.

Schrady says that any guest who plans to attend the event this year should BYOB: Bring Your Own Bowl. The event routinely sells out with 250 to 300 people attending. 

“And what restaurant has 300 bowls on hand?” asks Schrady.

“The event raises awareness of where our food comes from and coming together as a community to enjoy a meal together,” Tahoe Food Hub founder and executive director Susie Sutphin.


Chef and owner of 
Full Belly Deli Tom Marrin is preparing a unique and special soup for the next soup night on March 29. This is Full Belly Deli’s fourth time hosting the event. Marrin says he looks at what the Tahoe Food Hub has available and uses as much of their products as possible. For the next soup night, he is preparing a fennel and sorrel soup with char-braised chicken. 

“I try to do something different and push the envelope, making something people haven’t had before,” says Marrin, who regularly orders from Tahoe Food Hub. “I want to support their cause. I draw from Food Hub’s seasonality and the different things they have available and look at flavor profiles that are similar.” 

For instance, for his soup night dish, he is substituting sorrel for chard. Marrin says that he is grateful to the Food Hub for the unique products they bring locally.

“It’s going to be a fun night and packed to the gills. We will also serve beer and wine, a green salad using the Food Hub’s products and bread we make here,” he says. 

A bowl of soup and piece of bread is $5 and salad can be added for an additional $2. Beer and wine and additional food items are available for purchase from the host restaurant. 

“It’s a great community event and a meal that people don’t have to cook themselves,” says Schrady. 

The event is on March 29 at Full Belly Deli from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Local musician Aaron Oropeza will perform. For more information, visit tahoefoodhub.org or slowfoodlaketahoe.org.

Priya Hutner is a writer, health and wellness consultant, and natural foods chef. Her business, The Seasoned Sage, focuses on wellness, conscious eating and healthy living. She offers healthy organic meals for her clients. She may be reached at pria78@gmail.com or visit theseasonedsage.com. Visit TheTahoeWeekly.com to read more.


Chef Tom Marrin of Full Belly Deli shares his recipe for:
Fennel and Sorrel Char-Braised Chicken Soup

This recipe by Tom Marrin can be served with chicken or without. The instructions include plating instructions, if desired. Otherwise, simply toss everything in the pot together before serving.

Ingredients

2 pounds organic, bone-in/skinless chicken thighs

8 cups vegetable stock

2 cups carrots, diced (reserve scraps)

2 cups onion, diced (reserve scraps)

2 cups fennel, diced (reserve stems/fronds)

2 bunches sorrel (leaves only), chopped

2 cups cooked or canned white beans, drained and rinsed

1 large potato, peeled, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced 

4 bay leaves

1 bunch rosemary, chop only ½ of the bunch

1 Meyer lemon

1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)

¼ cup olive oil
kosher salt 

ground pepper

Chicken
Char chicken on both sides over high heat for about 4 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn. Add chicken to a shallow Dutch oven. Add reserved carrot, onion and fennel scraps. Add 2 bay leaves and the ½ bunch of rosemary that was not chopped. Add water until chicken thighs are covered 3/4s of the way. Cook in oven with lid at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes or until done. Let soup cool for 30 minutes. Pull chicken from the bone and set aside. 

Soup Base
Start this while the chicken is cooling. In a separate, 11-quart Dutch oven, add half the olive oil, onions, carrots, fennel, 1½ of the diced garlic and 1 bunch of sorrel leaves. Cook until the vegetables are soft, then add the vegetable stock, the potato, ½ cup of white beans and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potato is soft. If desired, put half the soup into a blender, using even amounts of liquid and vegetables, blend until creamy and return to soup pot. Add juice of half the lemon and zest, reserving half the lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste

White beans
Add rest of the olive oil, the remaining white beans, diced garlic and sorrel to a sauté pan and sauté for 3 minutes on medium high. Add the rosemary, red pepper flakes and juice of the remaining half lemon. Sauté for 2 minutes, then finish with salt and pepper and lemon zest to taste. If not plating, add mixture to soup.

Plating (if desired)
Evenly distribute the white-bean mixture between six bowls and add the desired amount of pulled chicken to the middle of the bowls in a tall pile. Ladle soup evenly into bowls around the inner rim.

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Priya Hutner
Priya Hutner is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. She writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. Priya loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience. Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of the Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle. She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks. | priya@tahoethisweek.com