Dear Heloise: At this time of year, my husband and I love a good, hearty soup and rolls. Do you have a vegetable soup recipe?

Vera in Ohio

Vera in Ohio: Yes, I do have a vegetable soup recipe, and here it is. You’ll need:

10½ ounces unsalted chicken broth

½ cup water

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables for soup

16-ounce can tomatoes

1 cup beef, cooked and diced

1 teaspoon thyme leaves, crushed

Dash of pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

2 ounces (about 1¼ cups) narrow-width noodles, uncooked

Heat the broth and water together. Add the vegetables, meat and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add the noodles and cook until they are tender — about 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf before serving.

If you like this easy-to-prepare soup, you’ll love my pamphlet Heloise’s Spectacular Soups, with many more recipes for chilly evenings. To get a copy, send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Soups, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at Heloise.com. Here’s a hint for you: When preparing vegetables for vegetable soup, put enough water in the pot to cover the vegetables by at least 2 inches or more.

Dear Heloise: My herbs and spices just don't seem to remain fresh for more than a couple of months. Why does this happen?

Elaine Y., Renton, Wash.

Elaine Y.: The problem here is heat. Never store herbs and spices close to a stove because heat is the enemy of most seasonings. Store all your seasonings in a cool, dry place, and make certain the caps are on very tight.

Dear Heloise: My kitchen sink clogs up frequently. How can I stop this problem?

Diana L., Carson City, Nev.

Diana L.: Pour 1 cup of baking soda down your kitchen drain, followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. It will foam up, and when the foam is starting to subside, follow with a saucepan of boiling water down the drain. From time to time, pour a cup of laundry detergent down your drain, followed by a saucepan of boiling water to make sure your drain is cleaned of things that could be clogging it. Remember, never pour grease of any kind down your drains.

Dear Heloise: I love vanilla iced coffee. However, the fast-food eatery I frequent never puts enough vanilla in my drink. I decided to remedy the situation by taking a small bottle of the flavoring with me. I poured the entire little bottle in my drink, yet it tasted bitter. I couldn't taste the vanilla at all, and it ruined my beverage. Where did I go wrong?

Jerry in Indiana

Jerry in Indiana: You can always request to have extra vanilla in your drink at the eatery you go to, but please keep in mind that vanilla is NOT sweet. It’s considered an aromatic spice. The reason it tastes so delicious in cookies and desserts is because they contain enough sugar to offset the bitterness of vanilla.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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