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Whether you’re still stuffed silly from all that holiday gluttony; you have the winter blues because you just looked at the calendar and realized that, yes, there are months to go until your next real vacation; you have a cold; or, well, you’re just hungry, we have one word to cure all that ails you: soup. Yes, soup. Is there any other food category that has so much possibility?

Soup or Sandwich?
How about Both …

Reuben Soup au Gratin
-- from the Chopping Block Cooking School, Chicago
1 cup beef stock
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1/4 pound corned beef, shredded
 1 1/4 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
3/4 cup sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, and squeezed dry
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups half-and-half Salt and pepper to taste
8 slices cocktail rye bread, brushed with butter and toasted until crisp
2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated

In heavy sauce pot, heat the beef stock, chicken stock, celery, onion, and green pepper to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer covered until vegetables are crisp yet tender, about five minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in water and blend into soup. Cook until soup thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in corned beef, cheese, and sauerkraut.

Gently heat the butter and half-and-half in small sauce pot until warm. Add this to the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls. Top with rye croutons and shredded cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and golden brown.


Recommended Reading

Put a soothing capper on the week with the seasonally inspired recipes in Betty Rosbottom’s Sunday Soup: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering, Easy-to-Make Recipes (Chronicle, $20).

Meredith Deeds and Carla Snyder’s 300 Sensational Soups (Robert Rose, $25) takes your stockpot through every meal (including dessert). It’s a real soup-to-nuts experience (thanks to an African Peanut Soup recipe).

Carolynn Carreño and Kenny Shopsin’s Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin (Knopf, $25) goes way beyond soup, but Shopsin schools you well in the way of this delectable cuisine, and if you’re sipping your bowl solo, you’ll end up reading Eat Me straight through your lunch.

Tools of the Trade

Cook It …
Lodge Color Enamel 6 Quart Dutch Oven, $88, www.lodgemfg.com

Taste It ...
French Tasting Spoon, $11, www.bereacollegecrafts.com

Serve It ...
Hand-Painted Italian Ceramic Chicken Soup Tureen, $200, www.surlatable.com