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Cooking for One: One column with one or two good ideas

Thursday, December 20, 2001

By Marlene Parrish

As 2001 draws to a close, one might think about tributes to oneness. In this last Cooking for One column of the year, I'll tell you about one good gift to give to yourself and I'll give you one terrific recipe.

If there's one thing solo cooks make a lot of, it's salads. Many people just toss bottled salad dressing onto a bowl of greens. That's an OK thing to do, but certainly it's in the lowest echelon of appeal.

A good gift to give to yourself is the makings of a salad dressing basket. Check out your kitchen counter space and see how much real estate you can manage to give over to a handy container. Six by 9 inches will do it.

Now go to Pier One and choose a nice wicker or wire basket, or whatever holder you like. Make a visit to Penn Mac in the Strip and pick out a really good olive oil (or two) and a good balsamic and/or wine vinegar. Ask Dave Sunseri to help you, and you can tell him I sent you. Pick up a jar of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, some artichoke hearts, canned tuna in oil, a jar of chick peas and whatever else sounds good.

At home, put the vinegars and oil into the salad basket along with a small pepper mill and a container of coarse salt. Put the rest of the stuff in the pantry to add at whim. Salads at your place should improve dramatically.

And here's a recipe for a fabulous first course called One-of-Each-Soup with the oddest combination of ingredients I've ever seen. Its origins are definitely the '50s.

Its inspiration probably comes from vichysoisse, and the ingredients are so mundane, you might not even have to hit the grocery store. When I make it, the first servings are hot. I refrigerate the leftovers in a jar and serve it cold. Either way, this one is a winner.

If you are mathematically challenged, remember that 2 cups equal one pint.


1 large boiling potato (1/2 pound), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 celery heart (inner pale stalks with leaves, coarsely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 large apple, (preferably Granny Smith), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 firm-ripe banana, coarsely chopped
1 pint chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream or milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 rounded teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives for garnish

Simmer vegetables and fruits in broth in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, covered, until very tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in cream or milk, butter, curry powder and salt and heat just until hot (do not boil).

Puree soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with chives. The soup can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.


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