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This Soup Shack Serves Up Warming Comfort Food Around Sonoma County

Chef Chad Holmes is selling out more than 25 gallons of his short rib chili, coconut curry shrimp bisque, chowder and Tuscan sausage kale soups each week at local farmers markets.

I could eat soup all day, every day — bisque, stew, chowder, broth and everything in between. Nourishing and warm, it’s like a blanket for your soul.

Seems I’m not alone. Chef Chad Holmes of Chad’s Soup Shack is selling out more than 25 gallons of his short rib chili, coconut curry shrimp bisque, potato dill, chowder and Tuscan sausage kale soups each week at local farmers markets.

Holmes says he had planned a soup business for months before the pandemic but spent some time rethinking his plans — and waiting for soup season — before his debut.

Holmes uses local ingredients and makes his own stock. In culinary school, his saucier classes were his favorites, he says, and he found peace in making soups and sauces from scratch.

“It’s really relaxing, making stock, cutting vegetables and putting it all together,” he says. “I find myself eating my own soup, saying, ‘Mmm, this is good!’”

Like many chefs facing incredibly tough odds during the pandemic, Holmes chose not to open a food truck or brick-and-mortar location for now and instead to go directly to customers from his commercial kitchen.

“COVID was somewhat of a blessing to make me pull back,” he says. “Having $5,000 in overhead before you even sell the food is hard, and that’s a huge weight off my shoulders. I’ve eliminated that process and do what I love.”

Most of the soups are gluten- and dairy-free, so they’re options for a variety of diets. But Holmes isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel; he’s sticking to basic ingredients.

“Less is more and simple is better,” he says.

If you’re craving his bean-less chili or other soups, you can find Holmes at the Windsor Certified Farmers Market on Sunday or the year-around Santa Rosa Farmers Lane Farmers Market on Wednesday.

More details at facebook.com/chadssoupshack

Editor’s Note: Travel, dining and wine tasting can be complicated right now. Use our inspirational ideas to plan ahead for your next outing, be it this week or next year. If you visit restaurants, wineries, and other businesses during the pandemic, remember to call ahead, make reservations, wear a mask and social distance.

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