Dear Heloise: We vacationed in Texas recently and had a lovely time. We ate at several Mexican restaurants and enjoyed the tortilla soup. Now that we are home, I would like to make some. Do you have a recipe you could share? Thanks so much! — Vivian in New York

Well, my editorial director (originally a Texan but now a New Yorker), Merry Clark, shared a fabulous recipe for chicken tortilla soup that I would be happy to pass along. To make it, you will need:

12 corn tortillas

1/2 cup olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1/2 cup tomato puree

4 quarts rich chicken stock

2 cups cooked chicken, diced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Dash of cayenne pepper and Parmesan cheese

Cut tortillas into strips and fry in oil until crisp (just like tortilla chips). Drain and set aside. Saute onions in olive oil and add tomato puree and stock, then the chicken and cilantro. Cook over medium heat for about an hour. Top each serving with a sprinkle of cayenne and Parmesan cheese, and the tortilla strips.

If this soup sounds good (and it is), there are many more in my Spectacular Soups pamphlet. To receive a copy, please send $4 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (59 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Soup, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Do you need to thicken up a soup? Add instant mashed potatoes, a little at a time. And if you don't tell, no one will even know. — Heloise

FYI: Some people like to add the tortilla strips the last 10-15 minutes of cooking so they are soft when it's time to serve. Try it both ways.

Speaking of soup, here's a question for you: Is it OK to eat canned soup right from the can? A leading soup manufacturer told us yes, you can! The soups are already cooked, so they are safe to eat cold, right from the can. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Not all refrigerators have deli drawers, and digging through the refrigerator for an item is such a pain. I decided to try something different. I purchased some stacking plastic shoe organizers for under $8. Each unit comes with three square boxes. They fit perfectly side by side on the shelves in my fridge.

As I cleaned, I organized, putting relish jars and such items in one box, cheese and lunch meats, etc., in another and then slid them into the fridge. Now I have two neatly organized shelves. I pull out a box, check the contents and then slide it back into place. — Cindy Tiggelman, South Haven, Mich.

Dear Heloise: After shopping at a supermarket, I save the receipt, cut away the payment portion and use the blank backside to write a new list of items I want. I know which store has the items on sale that I want to buy. — Vidya Manohar, via e-mail


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