Dear Heloise: I was amazed to see your recipe for cream soup run again in your column — it has been a standby for me for years.

One day, we were having friends over for lunch. The temperature took a sudden dip, and I realized that my menu was all cold. I quickly brought out my cream-soup mix. I added a jar of pureed butternut squash and had a delicious addition. — Rosemary L. Zabcik, Houston

The Heloise's Cream Soup base — or No-Fat Cream Soup, as I like to think of it — is a longtime reader favorite. It is easy and great for any meal. Make up a double or triple batch, because your family will love it.

You will need:

1 cup nonfat dried milk powder

1 tablespoon dried onion flakes

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all the ingredients and store in an airtight container. This mixture will make about four to six 4-ounce servings when water is added. To make soup, add 2 cups of water to the mix in a large saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until thick. Add 1/2 cup of a main ingredient of your choice — Rosemary used squash — and cook until done.

If the soup is too thick, add more water and stir thoroughly over medium heat.

For some more favorite family soup recipes, order Heloise's Spectacular Soups. To receive a copy of the six-page pamphlet, please send $4 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (58 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Soup, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

Did you know that you can use instant potatoes or even powdered milk to thicken up most soups? That's right — add a little at a time until it's at the right consistency.

Visit www.Heloise.com for more Heloise recipes and a link to listen to my weekly podcast on www.goodhousekeeping.com. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Whenever I find a great recipe in a magazine, I tear out the entire page and cover it in adhesive-backed plastic. Then I store these in the filing cabinet. When I need to use one, I only have to look for one sheet. — Michelle P., Hagerstown, Md.

Dear Heloise: I often lose my place on recipe cards in the middle of cooking. So, I highlight every other line with a bright-yellow, green or pink highlighter. This has really cut my cooking time in half. — Natalie of Texas


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