PO‘IPU — Helen Lacono said she created her black bean chili especially for Father’s Day.
The chili is a vegetarian dish, but Lacono said people can add ground meat on their own.
She was dispensing three of her four soup offerings almost nonstop last Wednesday during the Gourmet Community Market at The Shops at Kukui‘ula, the weekly market coordinated by the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau.
Lacono, who took a brief break from making soup for the weekly market, returned to The Shops at Kukui‘ula around the middle of May after taking care of a personal issue on the Mainland.
“Wow! You’re back,” a customer said, sampling some of the chili. “It seems like I just read about your leaving. It’s really good having you back.”
Lacono’s return to the weekly market was welcomed by the scores of soup fans she has accumulated during the time she’s been at the farmers market and also from the Hanapepe Cafe which has been closed since Lacono’s break.
“We’re working on trying to find a vendor so the Hanapepe Cafe can reopen,” Lacono said between dispensing hugs and soup.
“But now I’m back and the only place people can get soup is from the Gourmet Soup table at this weekly market.”
Among the offerings last Wednesday, Lacono offered up the black bean chili (just for the fathers), an Asian chicken and asparagus with some jalapeno peppers giving the broth a nice kick, a Hungarian mushroom soup and, although absent, cold gazpacho.
“Now that it’s getting hot, I’ll make sure we have some gold gazpacho next week,” Lacono said in response to several inquiries from customers looking for respite from the afternoon heat.
Kimi Barnes was visiting from California, and following a hug from Lacono and a few minutes of chatting, succumbed to a sample of Hungarian mushroom soup.
“This is so good,” Barnes said. “It brings back memories and tears come to my eyes.”
Lacono said the soup has been refined from the days when Barnes was a hostess at the Hanapepe Cafe, now lives in California and she returned for a visit last week.
“This was one of the soups we had when we were beginning the cafe,” Lacono said.
“I’ve refined it even more, but people still remember it from the Hanapepe Cafe days.”
For now, the only place people can get servings of Lacono’s soups is at the Gourmet Community Market from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays at The Shops at Kukui‘ula.
“It’s healthy, good and good for you,” Lacono said with her usual good-natured chuckle. “It’s all homemade.”
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.