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Prima restaurant in Kailua offers 150-plus souper ideas

150 different soups at Prima, from creative to crazy to just plain delicious


Buttermilk pancake
Poke bowl
Prosecco and pear
Tomato and grilled cheese
Corned beef and cabbage
Hurricane popcorn
Lamb gyro
South Indian Avial

Photos: Courtesy prima

When Prima first opened, chefs Kevin Lee and Lindsey Ozawa set out to never repeat a soup. Their goal: 100 different soups. But then they couldn’t stop. They just created their 150th. In the beginning, there was a Dungeness crab and corn bisque, then a creamy mushroom. They pulled flavors from different ethnicities: Mexican albondigas (meatball) soup; South Indian avial, a vegetarian coconut milk-based soup; fried mochi soup.

Things started getting more creative: a butternut squash soup topped with a savory rosemary marshmallow; buttermilk pancake soup, with the base made of blended pancakes, maple syrup and browned butter, garnished with bacon and a Vienna sausage. “It tastes better than it sounds,” Lee assures me. The breakfast-soup phase included the Everything Bagel soup, in which Lee pureed bagels with cream cheese and plated the bowl with a chunk of house-cured lox, toasted minced onion, poppy seeds and bagel croutons.

Then ingredients got crazy. “More recently, it’s been a lot more difficult to come up with new ideas,” Lee says. “The night before we have to make a new soup, we have a roundtable with the rest of the cooks. We’re right next to Foodland, so we’re walking through the food aisles, looking for ideas.” There was a three-week period when inspiration came from the snack aisle, hence Cool Ranch Doritos, Cheez-Its and Hurricane Popcorn all made their way into soups.

“The soup thing was a way for us to be creative, but then the craziness spawned off in every direction, too,” Lee says. Non-soup specials started riffing on beef and broccoli and Caesar salad. The latest tour de force: a strawberry foie gras French toast, with foie gras shavings over a maple-syrup drenched French toast, the foie melting like butter and imparting a salty richness.

Lee doesn’t know how long they’ll keep up their self-imposed challenge, but the good news is, if they stop, they’ll bring back past favorites.

Prima  |  108 Hekili St. #107, Kailua, 888-8933, primahawaii.com.

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Honolulu Magazine April 2018
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