The work The Stewpot does for the Dallas community is astounding. The faith based organization started by The First Presbyterian Church in downtown Dallas, with the mission to offer a safe haven for homeless and at-risk individuals of Dallas, providing resources for basic survival needs, giving the homeless of our city the necessary opportunities to start a new life. By offering shelter, medical care, substance abuse assistance, youth outreach, education, employment assistance and so many more services, they give a chance for a new life to those most in need. Additionally, with The Bridge, they provide 1500-2000 meals a day.
The Stewpot turns 40 years old this year, continuing to grow, expanding their locations, increasing their services, and helping more of those in need, most evident with the soon to be opened Encore Park, a community center designed to bring music and art back to a part of Dallas that both had thrived in years ago, and truly helping bring second chances to the neighborhood.
Started in 1974 the non-profit exists thanks to donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, church, and civic groups, and through funds raised at annual events like the Soup’s On event held yesterday at The Omni Dallas Hotel.
I love this event, it is one of my favorite charity events of the year as it brings some of the finest chefs in Dallas together, led, as always, by our talented friend, Chef Brian Luscher, owner of The Grape and soon to be opened Luscher’s Red Hots. A longtime supporter of The Stewpot, several years ago Chef Brian wanted to do more to help them, calling on his Chef pals like Janice Provost, Abraham Salum, Chad Houser, Matt McAllister and more, to bring a pot of soup to feed a crowd, raising money for those that do this everyday. He joked at the luncheon that he and his crew at The Grape had a hard time turning out 200 meals for guests last week, a fraction of what The Stewpot does daily.
Some would say soup is the simplest meal, others would say it is substance for the soul. A bowl of soup, from a simple broth to a hearty vegetable beef, provides warmth and nourishment, for much more than your hunger. It is a comforting embrace that starts at the top of your head and reaches all the way down to your toes. You just can’t get this from a salad. This comforting embrace is, in essence, what The Stewpot does everyday for the individuals who come to them for help.
This year’s event, in addition to including delicious and innovative soups (see below recipe from our buddy Abraham Salum who created an incredible chick pea and watercress soup,) included musician Jimmy Wayne sharing his story of going from life as a foster child in the system, after being abandoned by his mother, to a successful career. Wade brings a focus to addressing the child factor.
Children are often caught in the middle of homelessness, with parents that suffer from addiction or mental illness, or simply can’t find work to provide for their family and may be put into foster care. But what happens to those kids when they age out of the system? Often, they become homeless if they aren’t set on the right path and given a guiding hand.
Wade’s goal is to bring awareness to these issues early on, potentially changing the future and fate of those leaving foster care to become self-sufficient adults. It is not an easy topic, but homelessness is a reality in every community. Thankfully we have organizations like The Stewpot offering assistance. It was such a pleasure to see ball room of The Omni downtown filled for this event with enthusiastic attendees for this event as it means every person in that room, by purchasing a ticket and attending, has helped further The Stewpot’s mission.
Cheers to another incredible Soup’s On chefs, volunteers and of course, the wonderful staff of The Stewpot!
Watercress and Chickpea Soup with Rose Water Ras el Hanout and Crab Fritter
Chef Abraham Salum of Salum and Komali Restaurants
For the soup:
2 medium carrots cut in 3/4 inch dice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 tsp ras el hanout *
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (fresh or canned)
1 medium onion thinly sliced
2 1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
7 oz watercress
3 1/2 oz of spinach leaves
2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of rose water
salt and pepper to taste
Greek yogurt to garnish
Toss the carrots with the Ras el Hanout and cinnamon, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a 425F oven for 15 minutes, add half the chickpeas and roast for another 10 minutes. You want the carrots cooked but al dente.
In a sauce pan, place the onion and ginger, sauté with olive oil and add the rest of the chickpeas, stock, watercress, spinach, sugar and salt, bring to a boil until the leaves wilt. Don’t overcook the leaves! Place the mix in the blender and puree until smooth. Add the rosewater and check for seasoning.
Reheat to serve, garnish with a small dollop of yogurt, carrots, chickpeas and a small crab fritter (recipe follows).
For the fritter:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cups milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart canola oil (approximately, as needed for deep frying)
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked for shells and with excess liquid carefully squeezed out without breaking up lumps
To make the fritter batter, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another smaller bowl, whisk together milk, egg and black pepper. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and combine until all dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in the crab and rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat oil to 375 degrees F in a deep fryer.
Drop small amounts of the crab fritter mix in a deep fryer until golden brown and drain.