Sloup Combines Good Food and Great Art Grants

Art may feed the soul, but someone's got to feed the people who make it.

Less than a year after opening, Stirrup Pants Chapbook Store (2122 Cherokee Street) decided to host Sloup, described by store owner Maggie Ginestra as a way "to facilitate community-funded art projects in greater St. Louis, via soup." Sloup will be held one Sunday each month from 6 till 8 p.m.

Ginestra and Sloup partner Amelia Colette Jones were inspired to create Sloup after learning of similar programs in Illinois (Incubate in Chicago) and New York (Feast in Brooklyn). One night each month, artists present grant proposals to patrons who pay $10 for the privilege of reviewing the ideas over soup and homemade bread. At the end of the evening, one project is awarded all the money raised by that night's dinner.

The first Sloup, which took place February 21, awarded funds to Urban Studio Cafe to purchase screen-printing equipment.

"It exceeded our expectations. Everyone who attended brought awesome energy to the dinner," Ginestra says.

Why soup?

"Soup is easy to make big, and to share," Ginestra explains. "One pot, infinitely divisible -- it's a great centerpiece for any community gathering. And no matter how long Sloup hangs on, there will still be too many recipes to try!"

Not surprising given the arts bent, the food tends to have a creative slant.

Jones: "Jaffa Aharonov and David Weinberg brought homemade beer bread, each with a very different recipe. Jaffa's was biscuity and sweet and made with Stag. David's was a darker crustier bread made with Guinness and pomegranate juice."

Ginestra and Jones made the first soup with a focus on the visual. "We kept it simple and actually thought about color first: dark orange. We made a purée of carrot soup with roasted leeks and red peppers, heavy on the garlic and thyme, with Aleppo pepper from Penzey's Spices for heat. Having never made such an enormous batch of soup before, it was more about a balanced ratio than a specific recipe. It was a lot of carrots.

"Mississippi Mud, our across-the-street neighborhood café, is donating March's soup, which means it's going to be awesome!" Ginestra goes on. "Kimmy Wardenberg, a local printmaker, is donating April's bread. She'll be printing right on the bread with edible ink."

Sloup will accept grant applications right up until the day before the dinner. With the March 28 menu set, they're looking for soup for April. Says Jones: "Chefs, gardeners, locavores: We hope you'll consider donating a soup to Sloup and telling us about what's in our bowls. We're as excited about local food as we are about local artists."

For more information, e-mail [email protected] or call 314-795-8335.

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