Albondigas Soup, Cookies, Potato-Cheese Soup

DEAR SOS: My husband and I were served a delicious albondigas soup for lunch on the veranda at Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego. We'd love to prepare the recipe at home. Can you help?

--IRMA

DEAR IRMA: Ground beef is made into small meatballs and added to a tomato-based vegetable soup. It's a traditional, heart-warming Mexican soup.

RANCHO BERNARDO INN ALBONDIGAS SOUP 1 1/2 pounds ground beef 1/2 cup finely diced onion 3/4 cup finely diced celery 1/4 cup finely diced green pepper 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 teaspoon ground cumin 2 eggs 1/2 cup rice 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs Salt, pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup diced carrots 1 cup chopped tomato 10 cups chicken stock 1 bunch cilantro Tortillas, optional

Combine beef, onion, 1/4 cup celery, green pepper, garlic, cumin, eggs, rice and bread crumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well. Form into 30 small meatballs. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in soup pot. Add carrots and remaining 1/2 cup celery. Saute until vegetables are translucent. Add tomato and chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add meatballs. Trim cilantro stems and add leaves to soup. Serve hot with tortillas. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving, without tortillas, contains about: 446 calories; 1,460 mg sodium; 136 mg cholesterol; 26 grams fat; 22 grams carbohydrates; 28 grams protein; 0.64 gram fiber.

DEAR SOS: Some time ago you published a recipe for cookies from Neiman-Marcus. Would you please replace my lost recipe?

--FLORENCE

DEAR FLORENCE: Gladly. The cookies were named vacuum cleaner cookies, probably because they are so good that they disappear.

VACUUM CLEANER COOKIES (Neiman-Marcus Squares) 1/2 cup margarine (not butter), melted 1 (18 1/4-ounce) box yellow cake mix 3 eggs 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar 1/2 cup flaked coconut 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Combine margarine, cake mix and 1 egg in mixing bowl. Stir together until dry ingredients are moistened. Pat mixture into bottom of well-greased 15x10-inch jellyroll pan.

Beat remaining 2 eggs lightly, then beat in cream cheese and powdered sugar. Stir in coconut and nuts. Pour over mixture in jellyroll pan, spreading evenly.

Bake at 325 degrees 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Cool pan on wire rack to room temperature. Cut into bars. Makes about 4 dozen bars.

Each serving contains about: 132 calories; 113 mg sodium; 18 mg cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.08 gram fiber.

Note: Use plain cake mix, not mix with pudding added. Do not use whipped margarine.

DEAR SOS: I have eaten several times at the Claim Jumper restaurant in the City of Industry and it, without a doubt, serves the best potato soup I have ever eaten. Recipe, please?

--JOAN

DEAR JOAN: A restaurant spokesperson writes: "(While) we often share recipes, we do not publish them or make them available to the public. Potato-cheese soup is very popular, but your readers will have to enjoy it when they visit our restaurant."

Well! We have a recipe for potato-cheese soup that might do instead.

POTATO-CHEESE SOUP 1/4 cup chopped onion 2 tablespoons butter 4 cups water 2/3 pound potatoes, peeled and diced to equal about 2 cups 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 chicken bouillon cubes 1 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder 3 tablespoons flour 1 tablespoon chopped parsley 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Saute onion in butter in large saucepan until tender. Add 1 cup water, potatoes, salt and bouillon cubes. Cover and boil gently 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Combine nonfat dry milk and flour. Stir in remaining 3 cups water. Add to potato mixture.

Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to boil and thickens. Stir in parsley. Ladle into bowls and top each with shredded cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 387 calories; 518 mg sodium; 44 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 43 grams carbohydrates; 26 grams protein; 0.41 gram fiber.

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