It’s Soup & Sammie Time at The Depanneur! Sweet Potato, Kale, & Bacon Soup With an Egg Frittata Sandwich

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It’s soup and sammie time at The Depanneur!  I hadn’t been back to the cafe since Christmas and I really missed their soup and sandwiches so I made a return trip last month and had myself a warm and yummy comfort meal.  Not only do I enjoy noshing on the good eats here, but I also love just being amidst the hustle and bustle in the commercial kitchen.  On any given day, you would find either Lisa (@afoodgypsy) cooking up one of her fabulous soups, Sara of Nice Buns kneading and baking fresh fougasse, sourdough, and buns for her bakery and the farmers’ markets (and brushing olive oil and herbs onto the mouthwatering finished products!), and local musician Laura Repo making her homemade family recipe granola.  It’s so much fun being a part of the cooking atmosphere and watching homemade food from scratch come together right before your eyes. 

Soups and sandwiches are The Depanneur’s forte and while it’s one of the simplest meals in the book, the crew keeps things interesting and delicious by using simple ingredients and just combining them in different and delicious ways.  At The Depanneur, you get to see food in all its various complexities.  They break out the big guns for the supper clubs with unique interpretations of North American classics (a vegan tv dinner supper club that encourages you to think about the historical and social construction of food?  Oh, hell yes) and plenty of ethic flavour, and they keep their daily cafe menu simple yet insanely scrumptious.  Eggs, bread, potatoes, green vegetables, smoky meats, and a lot of love!

Sara of Nice Buns hard at work baking!

Brushing olive oil and herbs onto the fougasse!

 My breakfast sandwich was a soft, warm, heavenly green pea, red pepper, and potato egg frittata sandwich on St. John’s sourdough with miso aioli.  I think I loved this one even more than the first sandwich I had here.  It was so good.  My favourite parts of the sandwich were the peas, the chunks of potato, and the miso aioli.  The peas and potatoes gave the soft eggs, and the sandwich as a whole, a delicious “meaty” starchiness to it that was totally kicked up a notch by the miso aioli spread.  It was so creamy and savoury and it complemented the bread and the potato chunks so well.  Imagine dipping starchy, potatoey fries or soft-on-the-inside, crunchy on the outside wedges of bread into a creamy garlic mayo.  It’s that, only better because every bite and mouthful is a party of egg, potato, veggies, bread, and creaminess!  I really loved this and I only wish I could have a foot-long baguette sandwich of this.  

The Depanneur takes pride in using as many local ingredients as possible from the city and province and the sandwiches are a prime example of that.  Bread will normally come from St John’s Bakery and Nice Buns, organic eggs from H.O.P.E. Eco Farms (and according to Len, specifically from brown hens kept on grass), and some vegetables from Fiesta Farms here in Toronto. 

The wonderful thing about The Depanneur is how resourceful they are with their food.  They always think big and they always consider, “how can we make the most of the ingredients we have and how many different dishes can we create using these items?”  The vegetables they use for their breakfast sandwiches might make their way into a soup, into that night’s drop-in dinner, or into a weekend cooking workshop or supper club.  It’s exactly how their sweet potato, kale, and bacon soup was created and as soon as I saw it on their menu board, I knew it would be the perfect savoury soup partner for my sandwich and that it would be just as delicious as it sounded!

It’s a combination that I had never encountered before and I was immensly intrigued to try it out.  With onions and red peppers to round out the bowl of soup, it was a bowl full of hearty, feel-good goodness.  The sweetness of the sweet potato balanced out the smoky savouriness of the bacon pieces (yes, that’s right, PIECES) and the kale was very mild in flavour which was perfect because it didn’t interfere with the other two flavours.  Instead, the kale gave the soup most of its body and an aspect of leafy lightness, lifting the soup a little so that the heartiness of the sweet potato and bacon wasn’t overwhelming.  One of the best things about it?  It didn’t need anything.  You know how some soups are too bland and others are too spicy and others are too salty?  Nothing of the sort with this one.  I love cracked black pepper and I always sprinkle some onto my soup (and food, when appropriate), but I found that I didn’t need it or even want it.  The flavours of the soup were bold and spoke for themselves. 

The whole meal was the embodiment of warm comfort food with hearty starches (potatoes and sweet potatoes), smoky flavour from the bacon, and full body from the leafy kale.  There is so much great food to look forward to at The Depanneur and given how the menu is always evolving, this is just the delicious beginning.  

*****

The Depannuer is located at 1033 College Street between Dovercourt Rd. and Dufferin Street.  They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) with a number of cooking classes, food workshops, drop-in dinners, and supper clubs throughout the month, which you can keep up with on the Food Calendar or on their Twitter @TheDepanneur.  You can view The Depannuer’s Facebook page here.

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Getting Warm and Cozy at the Indoor Farmers’ Markets – The Eglinton Market at North Toronto Community Centre

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I love visiting different community centres.  Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my local community centre, and bouncing between different ones around the city to ice skate and swim with my dad.  I spent 3 years swimming like a fishy full-time, winter after winter strapping on ice skates that were way too big for me because my dad bought me skates he thought I would “grow into” (which I obviously didn’t), and almost all my life popping in and out of community centre libraries with stacks of books I would stick my nose in for weeks on end. 

Community centres are so important not only in providing neighbourhoods with lifestyle, sports, and exercise programs, but they’re also vital in creating and maintaining our social relationships.  You meet people, you make friends, you get to know your own neighbourhood better, and you learn about events going on in the city you otherwise wouldn’t have known about.  At the very least, a community centre can function as a physical and mental refuge for some, a home away from home for parts of the day.

The Eglinton Farmers’ Market (in conjunction with Appletree Markets) moved indoors this past November, setting up camp on the main floor of the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre every other week from 3pm-7pm.  I finally got the chance to see the market in its indoor form since its winter move and I was really excited to see what January would bring.  Even though I think I arrived at the market before every single vendor was able to set up, I was still able to snap some photos and I even took away some fabulous new foodie reading material for myself! 

The market was in full-out winter mode, with barrels of cabbage, potatoes, leeks, onions, apples, pears, brussel sprouts, and beans ready for the picking.  I was so amused by the brussel sprouts – they looked like jolly green giant beanstalks with little green nubbies on them!  In its natural form, there they were with brussel sprouts literally still on the stalk!  Brussel sprouts have become one of my family’s favourite vegetables over the past two years and that’s because we don’t do the brussel sprout no-no: we don’t steam them!  For years, my mum hated brussel sprouts because she had an awful dining experience where the cooking method used didn’t do them justice and they ended up being reduced to mush.  Roasting (or in our case, a quick boil) does the trick and sprinkle some olive oil, garlic, sea salt, or cracked black pepper and you have yourself a tasty meal.

The winter markets are all about warmth and comfort and there was plenty of that at the little market.  There were homemade jars of soup, baskets with mounds of Italian beans perfect for making salads and warm soups (it was the first time I had ever seen Italian borlotti beans!), and plenty of fair trade coffee from Chocosol!  I picked up the most recent issue of Edible Toronto and The Golden Horseshoe from Chocosol where they were featured on the cover and in the magazine as the featured cover story, and the most recent issue of Post City magazine: North Toronto from the community centre.

I’m sad that the market is every other week as opposed to every single week, but I feel lucky enough that I have markets to go to and great community centres to visit and explore.  The winter is still young and I’m crossing my fingers I’ll finally be able to visit the market at Wychwood Barns and the 99 MRKT when it comes back later on this month!  No matter what, I’m making it a priority to visit whichever ones I can so I can get the goods on what’s good this winter at the market. 

*****

The Eglinton Appletree Markets are held indoors during the winter season at North Toronto Memorial Community Centre at 200 Eglinton Ave. West from 3pm-7pm.  From November 10th to May, the market is held indoors in the community centre every other Thursday from 3pm-7pm.  Check out the Appletree Market website here for specific dates and for more information.