Panic Blog

Battle Soup

From the Panic kitchen, Chef Neven

The weather is cold, the holidays are approaching, the food-talk is at an all-time high; this means war. More specifically, a cook-off battle pitting friend against friend: Panic Inc.’s Les against Panic Inc.s’ yours truly. This has happened before (we all remember August’s Battle Tomato) and it was bound to happen again.


The Rules

  • All food must be prepared between Saturday morning and Monday noon
  • The cooks shop for the chief ingredients together, on Saturday
  • All dishes must be new to the cooks; no recipes allowed
  • The food must be challenging to cook…
  • …but not challenging to eat, as it is served to the whole office, which includes picky eaters.
  • This week’s theme was soup. Stews, broths, chowders, chilis, gumbos, bisques – if it’s cooked down and you eat it with a spoon, it qualifies.

A food battle makes for a busy weekend. I drove around looking for turkey legs and Gjetost cheese (the best-designed cheese in the world) while Les built his food muscle the long way: nine hours to make the broth, eight hours to braise the pork, an overnight kimchi.


Monday morning, disaster struck: the gas burners in the office would not fire. All was lost, hopes dashed, stews cold and gelatinous. But then, Dave Hayden remembered how the elders of his family told the legend of an ancient mystical device, some kind of magical fire on a stick they used to start the stove, long ago before they had sparkers… So we fired the burners using a match – really, have you seen these things? They’re great – and off we went, right on schedule. The smoky, sweet, porky smells drew a crowd into the kitchen.

Battle Soup Menu


White Bean and Ham Soup with Kale
Radish Kimchi Stew with Braised Pork
Sweet Persimmon Soup


Turkey Bean
Chestnut Brunost
Apple Honey




More photos here! (All taken by Christa Mrgan)

Les describes his offerings thusly: “Like Neven, I started with a homestyle, smoky bean soup. The idea of kimchi stew was stuck in my head from reading David Chang’s Momofuku book. (Of course, in accordance with competition rules, no recipe was used.) And while I’d never heard of persimmon soup, somehow it was an easy decision. It’s the end of the season when the fruit is sweetest. I balanced the persimmon purée with cream, vanilla, ginger, allspice, and lemon zest.”

Sweet Persimmon Soup

As for my dishes, the first one was a childhood favorite, though I’d never made it myself before. The chestnut soup paired its star ingredient’s nutty winter warmth with the familiar yet unexpected caramel flavor of Scandinavian brunost cheese. And for the sweet tooth, Granny Smiths cooked in mead, served with sugared bacon and gorgonzola dolce. You can see approximate recipes for my dishes on my blog.

Honey Apple soup

The Office Responds

Reactions ranged from positive to overwhelmed to off-topic:

“Les’ kimchi stew and Neven’s turkey bean soup battled it out for supremacy of Panic kitchen… the winner, all of us!” – Wade

“The spoon hurt my lip.” – Will

“I could taste each and every hour Les put into that kim chee stew, and it tasted like smiles and rainbows. And pork. Rich, succulent pork.” – Tim

“I would have enjoyed it even if I hadn’t been required to attend.” – Ned

“Les found a way to get me to eat Kim Chi. I fear his eldritch magick.” – Steve

“Ultimately satisfying, even if it failed to live up to the hype.” – Dave

“Productivity in the office decreases as the food that is served increases in deliciousness. Today is not a productive day.” – Mike

“Who knew putting 72 hours of love into pig meat would pay off this big. And dessert soup?!? I am coming to work at least 5 times a week from now on.” – Ian

We will meet again on the battleground, Les. The next challenge is yours to give.

Posted at 3:07 pm 18 Comments

Gentlemen, these look amazing. This level of dedication to the culinary arts is surely why you’ll best the haters and ship Coda 2.0 better, faster and stronger. My hat’s off.

Andy Matuschak

12/9/2009 3:53 PM

Are you kidding. There is a “from the kitchen” post type styling as well? Panic Art Department: winners.

Looks tasty, both the soup and the animated photos (nice effect).

Steven Birkes (aka Twist)

12/9/2009 5:08 PM

Wow these look and sound interesting at worst and mostly awesome. Panic Inc needs to perfect that Internet Flavor Translator so we can all try these.

P.S. Quick suggestion: as one of the long time Panic followers who still tends to think of Panic as just Cabel and Steven I think the rest of the crew should introduce themselves now that Panic has a blog.

kc! Bradshaw

12/9/2009 6:06 PM

Awesome products, amazing ideas, AND good cooks to boot? Panic, Inc is a trifecta FTW.

Steven Birks;
I totally agree! All of you we ever see are Cabel, Steven, Wade, Neven and Les (I’m sorry if I left someone out I could have easily found on the website). And I cannot believe 40% of your staff are cooks…

stephen s.

12/9/2009 10:26 PM

When opens the Panic Cart?

A “Panic Roll Call” is not a bad idea. I’ll put it on the potential blog post list!

Tor Løvskogen Bollingmo

12/10/2009 3:42 AM

Brunost! From Norway, right?

Where I work, everyone gets excited if we get take-out pizza. If only I could hone my Cocoa skills to a razor-sharp edge and convince my wife to move to Portland…

Tor: Yes, from Norway. I love its nutty, caramel-y quality. It works really well with chestnuts!

Neven, even though I have nothing to offer Panic, can I work at your office? I want to eat that.

The Guilty Carnivore

12/11/2009 3:39 PM

To the victor goes the spoils. Usually it’s the person who used the most pork fat.

Jonas Rabbe

12/12/2009 11:39 AM

I know that the attention to detail Cabel and Steven brings to Panic is incredible, but that it carries over to other people and into other, not even the slightest related, activities is too awesome for words. This type of activity is definitely something I will try to practice with my friends and family, no one can loose when the food is good.

Edward Bellamy

12/18/2009 2:11 PM

Nice – Global Knives! Japanese triple folded steel at its best!

I really like my Globals, though I’ll admit Les has the better gear here: Shun. Both are superb knives, though!

Jon Løvstad

12/19/2009 1:21 PM

Ah… brunost… nice to see it’s being used creatively!

Marcia Gregory

1/5/2010 2:53 PM

You’re right, the blog IS the future and everyone seems to have one. Yours is actually enjoyable, informative and crazy funny to read.