Volunteer Cathy Coakley describes the different soup offerings to Christina Shorner at the Soup and Bread Food Pantry fundraiser at Skrine Chops March 20. The next Soup and Bread takes place April 24.JEAN LOTUS/Staff

Forest Park’s Soup and Bread gathering March 20 was a cozy answer to a below-20 degree first day of Spring.

Gathered around a fireplace upstairs at Skrine Chops, hungry soup-lovers spooned the warmth as they listened to the sounds of Blues artists Amy Kelly and the Bill Ande Band.

“I got the idea from some friends at the Hideout [nightclub] in Chicago,” said volunteer and Forest Parker Mary Lane. “They host an event every month and the proceeds go to seven food pantries.”

Lane said she knew the Forest Park Food Pantry could use a little help.

On the menu were five gourmet soups, cooked by volunteers, and slices of French bread. Participants gave a free-will donation — all of which went to the Food Pantry.

Volunteers Cathy Coakley and Meagan Fitzgerald ladled out bowls of hot soup: Chicken vegetable, cream of tomato with sunflower seeds, tomato, potato and cheddar, Fakes Greek Lentil (with feta, chives and a drizzle of olive oil) and Pasta e fagioli (known to Italian-American grandmothers as “Pasta Fazool”).

Soups for past events have been donated by celebrity chefs Denise Norton of Flavour Cooking School and Laura Rodriguez of Crème Catering in Berwyn, Lane said.

Informal communal seating inspired friendly conversations in Skrine’s party room, paneled with reclaimed vintage barn lumber from Wisconsin.

“Steve and Mary Rita Skrine are more than gracious,” Lane said. “They let us use this wonderful room.”

The event raised $700 for the food pantry.

Lane said the next Soup and Bread will take place on Wednesday, April 24 from 6-8 p.m. at Skrine Chops.

“We’re trying to make this a very friendly, very grassroots event,” Lane said.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...