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"I cannot understand why people eat so much. I? I do not like to eat. No. For me, sometimes a little soup and bread."

--Arturo Toscanini in Samuel Chotzinoff's An Intimate Portrait

Toscanini's Rice and Celery Soup

Here is the soup Maestro insisted on eating before conducting a concert. Why? Because it warmed and soothed him--just enough and not too much to sustain a superhuman effort. And it works, especially when you make it a tradition. Serve hot to yourself--better, have someone else lovingly serve it to you, someone who truly understands your right to be tempermental....

Garnish: 1 Tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley

Saute the celery in butter in a saucepan over a low heat, until it is tender. Add the rice, stir to coat with the butter, then pour in the stock. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, pour into a bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and put hot toast points on the side.