“No soup for you!”

It’s a line that actor Larry Thomas has uttered thousands of times — most famously, of course, during the Seinfeld episode in which he guest starred as the Soup Nazi. But also to the countless fans who recognize him on the street, and for the hundreds of Cameo requests he’s completed. “They’d probably demand a refund if I didn’t say it,” he jokes. 

But despite the fact that he’s been mock-denying people a bowl of soup for more than 25 years, Thomas himself is actually a pretty generous guy — especially when it comes to the subject of soup. To prove it, he was more than happy to provide us with his favorite fall soups. He even went a step further and shared a few recipes from his memoir/cookbook, Confessions of a Soup Nazi: An Adventure in Acting and Cooking

While he might be known for saying “No soup for you,” for once, Thomas would instead like to say, “Soup for you” — even if it definitely isn’t as catchy.

Larry Thomas, sans mustache. Unfortunately, his Cameo requests plummet whenever he shaves it.

First thing first: Do you know how to make your own soup?

Oh yeah. I grew up cooking. My dad was a cook. He took off when I was a little kid, but he inspired me to be a good cook. My mom had to be a single working businesswoman and never really learned to cook; so I just grew up cooking and had a knack for it. And since I’d played the Soup Nazi, I had friends telling me I should write a cookbook. I never really wrote anything down or measured anything, I just cooked stuff. But finally, they talked me into it, and I wrote a book about my life as an actor, which was also a cookbook and a number of the recipes are for soups. My favorite review I ever saw for the book is, “The stories are so-so, but the recipes are great.”

What’s your favorite kind of soup?

I’d say white clam chowder. From the time I was a kid growing up on the East Coast, it was always my favorite soup. When I was a teenager, I was washing dishes at a place here in Los Angeles called The Chili Place, and all the guy made was chili and clam chowder. His clam chowder was really good, and I remember asking him for his recipe. He pulled out a gigantic can of Smart & Final Clam Chowder and a can of clams. He told me, “I just add extra clams.” So when I developed my own recipe, I doubled up the amount of clams anyone else would use.  

Thomas’ recipe for clam chowder

Did you have a favorite soup that your mom or grandmother or someone in your family made?

My favorite family soup growing up was the chicken noodle soup my grandmother used to make around Jewish holidays. She made her own kreplach . She’d roll the heck out the dough until it was paper thin, and then she’d put ground brisket, onion and spices in it. I absolutely loved it, but I wasn’t allowed to eat it until it went into the soup. So I’d sneak a few into my pockets, and go to my room and eat them.

What’s your least favorite soup?

Mushroom soup. It tastes a little like dirt. 

In that case, how do you feel about tomato soup?

I’d never say that tomato soup is one of my favorites; it’s usually pretty boring. However, I once judged a soup contest, and this Filipino woman made a soup called sop tomat jawa, which was a spicy tomato soup with sausage in it. I named it the best soup of the competition.

What about French onion?

I like French onion! That’s a great soup. I don’t have a recipe myself, but whenever I see it on a menu, I get it.

How about mulligatawny?

That’s the one people remember the most from Seinfeld, so I had to learn how to make it. Fortunately, I love it. It’s sweet and savory. My version has golden raisins, Granny Smith apples, curry, chicken and turnips. It’s really, really good.

Thomas’ mulligatawny soup recipe

What’s better with soup — bread or crackers?

Crackers. On the other hand, I went to theater school in San Francisco one summer and fell madly in love with the clam chowder they’d serve in a bread bowl on the Fisherman’s Wharf. So I generally prefer crackers, but when it comes to sourdough bread bowls, it’s definitely bread.

Lastly, please settle this online debate: Is cereal soup?

Is cereal soup? I’ve never heard that before. I guess, in a way, it is — it’s like cold milk soup. I’ll say “yes” cereal is soup.

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