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Spiced Tomato Bouillon

Light, fragrant, tart, and subtle, this light soup is an excellent appetite stimulant, both hot and cold. It's simple to make and makes a beautiful and sophisticated presentation. Dear friend Sandy Bentley of Minonk, Illinois, suggested this recipe to me. She likes it hot with chicken stock; I'm wild about it cold with beef stock. And it's not at all bad with a splash of vodka at the end either! Serve hot or cold as a first course to 4 people.

Garnish: round lemon slices, paper thin

In a saucepan, bring the tomato juice, onion, celery, bay leaf, and cloves to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, stir in the stock, and reheat.

If serving hot, ladle into cups and float the lemon slice on top of each portion (this works the best if you gently lower it flat to the surface on a spoon). If serving cold, overseason a little bit while warm, then chill in the refrigerator until ice cold. Ladle into cups and float the lemon slice on top of each.