A new book of comforting local recipes has been published just in time for soup season.
Crafted show and sale
● Friday, Nov. 8, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 9, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
● Winnipeg Art Gallery
● Admission: $5, kids under five free. Includes entry to WAG exhibitions.
The second volume of Down to Earth: Homemade Soups in Handmade Vessels features 21 recipes from Manitoba chefs paired with pottery made by ceramic artists. The first instalment of the cookbook was published in 2018 as a charitable project that was part of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s (WAG) annual Crafted show and sale.
Sales from the first volume of the Down to Earth cookbook have raised more than $15,000 for Winnipeg Harvest to date.
"It was really, really popular, which I think is noteworthy because books don’t sell that way," says Yoko Chapman, owner of Ayoko Design and chairwoman of the Crafted market. "Everybody loves soup and it has a very strong and obvious local component to it and esthetically it’s really beautiful."
The food bank and the art gallery will split the proceeds this year and the fundraising goal has been upped to $25,000 for each organization.
Chapman and Sherri Van Went, WAG’s manager of retail operations, have been collaborating on the cookbook project for the past two years. They considered featuring a different food this year, but soup and ceramics have proved to be a winning duo.
"Manitoba has an incredibly vibrant ceramic community," Van Went says. "When you’re making functional work or dinnerware or bowls, to complete the piece is to put it into use, so it’s kind of like a collaboration between the chef and the artist."
Each chef submitted three soup recipes for consideration. Chapman and Van Went narrowed down the selections and matched each soup with a complementary vessel. All of the images were taken by WAG photographer Lianed Marcoleta.
Although collaboration wasn’t built into the selection process, some chefs and artists did end up bouncing ideas off each other.
Artist Janelle Janz created a bowl and ladle set inspired by minimalist French tableware to hold chef Alexander Svenne’s kale, white bean and chorizo soup. Janz is an up-and-coming ceramic artist and server at Svenne’s restaurant, Little Goat Food and Drink.
"They worked really closely together," Van Went says. "That’s something we’d like to do more in the future."
The bowls and cups made by David McMillan were already well underway when he was asked to submit to Down to Earth. The Winnipeg artist takes the label of "locally made" a step further than most and each batch of pottery takes him nearly a year to complete.
McMillan harvests all his clay, sand and glazing material from small deposits in western Manitoba and the Interlake. After the materials are collected and processed, jars, pitchers, bowls and mugs are formed and fired in a homemade wood-burning kiln for 30 hours. It takes five days for the kiln to cool down enough to be opened.
"Then I get to pull it out and see what I’ve been actually accomplishing over the last 12 months," he says. "It’s really exciting, but it sometimes requires a stiff drink afterwards."
McMillan is also a fan of home-cooked food.
"When you have a soup that’s made by someone who’s taken the time to taste it and it’s not just a generic recipe, you end up with something a little bit different each time," he says. "When you have handmade pottery, it’s a similar thing — no two pieces are going to turn out the same."
His pieces have been paired with an African peanut soup made by the owners of Verde Juice Bar, Rob Bohay and Giorgo Mantas.
"We’re a vegan-friendly, vegetarian place, so we just wanted to do a twist on healthy, plant-based soups that are popular," Mantas says.
The soup is part of the café’s regular menu rotation and has become a customer favourite.
"I think it’s the flavours, the tomato, the peanut butter, we garnish it with peanuts and we have fresh spinach on the bottom when we serve this soup," he says. "It’s very flavourful and it’s filling, too."
Down to Earth can be ordered online at crafted.wag.ca/cookbook or purchased at a number of retailers around Winnipeg. Cookbooks will also be available at the Crafted market on Friday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 9, at the WAG. There will be a soup bar at the event and many of the artists featured in the book are Crafted vendors.
Recipe by Rob Bohay and Giorgo Mantas, Verde Juice Bar
Ceramics by David McMillan, McMillan Pottery
This creamy West African peanut butter and tomato-based soup has a spicy kick and is topped with roasted peanuts.
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 25 minutes | Cooking time: 45 minutes
15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, diced fine
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1, 28-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
2 ½ ml (½ tsp) pepper
125 ml (½ cup) peanut butter
1 L (4 cups vegetable broth
4 ml (¼ tbsp) chili powder
1 ml (¼ tsp) cayenne pepper
1 handful spinach or kale
60 ml (¼ cup) chickpeas
Heat oil over medium heat in large saucepan. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent.
Add bell pepper, jalapeño, sweet potato and diced tomatoes with juice. Raise heat to medium-high and cook for five minutes. Add salt and pepper.
In medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter and 250 ml (one cup) of hot vegetable broth until no clumps remain. Stir mixture into vegetables and add remaining vegetable broth, chili powder and cayenne. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low-medium. Simmer for about five minutes, or until sweet potato is tender.
Add spinach and chickpeas to each bowl before pouring soup. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish, and serve.
Eva Wasney reports on arts, culture and life for the Winnipeg Free Press.