Prima restaurant in Kailua offers 150-plus souper ideas

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


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Albondigas
Mushroom
Buttermilk pancake
Cheez-Its
Beet  
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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