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HINTS FROM HELOISE

Garden City Telegram

Dear Heloise: My sister and I have a bet going. I say champagne should not be refrigerated, but my sister says it needs to go in the refrigerator as soon as you get home from the store. Which of us is correct? -  Linda and Sharon, Potomac, Va.

Linda and Sharon, a purist would tell you to never store champagne in a refrigerator because it might absorb other odors from various foods. The cold temperatures also can make the cork shrink, allowing the bubbles to escape and the champagne to go flat. It's best to store champagne in a cool, dark place on its side. Only place it in the refrigerator a couple of hours before serving or in a bucket of ice. -  Heloise

AN OLD FAVORITE

Dear Heloise: Please reprint your Tortellini soup recipe. It was a big hit with my in-laws the last time they came for a visit, and they're coming again in a few weeks. I'd like to make it for them when they come in March. - Sandra M., Helena, Mont.

Sandra, yes my Tortellini and Bean Soup is one of my favorites, too. Here it is. You'll need:

1/2 pound dry kidney beans; or 2 16-ounce cans kidney beans

1 bay leaf

Sprinkle of garlic powder

1/4 pound sliced regular bacon or pancetta (a type of unsmoked bacon); reserve the bacon drippings

1 onion (diced)

1 garlic clove (minced)

4 cups chicken broth

1 29-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 cups beef broth

1/4 tsp basil (dried, crushed)

1/4 tsp black pepper

9 ounces of cheese tortellini

2 cups fresh spinach

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Cook kidney beans with bay leaf and garlic. Fry bacon or pancetta.

In the bacon drippings, saute 1 onion (diced) and 2 garlic cloves (minced) until golden brown. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, beef broth, basil, oregano, black pepper and salt and simmer. Add the tortellini and the kidney beans, cook 20 minutes. Add the spinach and cook 10 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. To make vegetarian, omit the pancetta or bacon, chicken and beef broth. Instead, use vegetable broth, bean "juice" and vegetable juice. You also can add parsley and increase the other spices.

To get this and other delicious recipes, go to www.Heloise.com or send $5 along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Heloise/Soups, P.O. Box 795001. San Antonio, Texas 78279. There's nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a cold, windy day to warm the soul. -  Heloise

WHAT TO GET MOTHER

Dear Heloise: Valentine's Day is coming, and I never know what to get both my mother and my mother-in-law. They don't need "things" and don't eat candy (one is a diabetic). What can I get that will make them happy? Any hints? -  Doria B., Mansfield, Ohio

Doria, here are a few hints that I think they might like:

-  A year's subscription to a magazine they like.

-  A year's worth of movies on a channel they watch (you pay for the subscription).

-  Make a nice dinner or lunch for them at your place or take it to them where they live.

-  If they like gardening, you can give them a plant they can later replant in their yard or in a pot.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.