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UCLA

Love Soup

These vegetarian creations by Bruin filmmaker Anna Thomas all include one very special ingredient.

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By Marc Cuenco

Published Dec 1, 2009 8:26 AM


When Oscar-nominated producer and screenwriter Anna Thomas '71, M.A. '77 was a film student at UCLA, she learned how to cook. She would serve healthy and, by all accounts, delicious vegetarian meals to her classmates, and later revealed the recipes in her 1972 book "The Vegetarian Epicure," the iconic cookbook for lovers of meatless cuisine.

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Now Thomas returns to the kitchen with a new book called "Love Soup" that contains 100 vegetarian soup recipes and dishes to go with them — from breads to salads to dessert.

"I've been making soup like a maniac for the last few years and these are some of the best I've ever made," she says from her Ojai home.

Thomas was inspired to write "Love Soup" while renovating her home and moving to a small studio space with a kitchen that measured 81 inches across. "It reminded me of being back in college, having this minimal, non-fancy kitchen with not a lot of equipment, and making do with that," she says.

Thomas, who loved throwing lavish parties, changed her entertaining style to preparing very intimate dinners. She would send an email out saying, "Soup kitchen is open" and a few hours later, friends would come over with bread, wine, and cheese to accompany the meal.

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Anna Thomas, '71, M.A. '77 started making vegetarian meals for her friends as a UCLA undergrad.

The book's title was inspired by a quote from Spanish poet Miguel de Cervantes: "Of love and soup, the second is better." "I thought the quote was very funny and it's very famous in Spain, but why choose?" the author says. "Be in love, eat soup. Love soup!" Her previous three cookbooks — all vegetarian — include recipes for pastas, casseroles, tarts, and baked goods but "Love Soup" is the first time Thomas focused on one type of food. "Soup is basic, everyone loves it, and there are infinite possibilities on preparing it" she adds.

Of course, there's still the day job. Thomas received an Oscar nomination for co-writing the 1983 film "El Norte" with her then-husband Gregory Nava, produced the 1995 drama "Mi Familia," and wrote the screenplay for 2002's "Frida."

"It's been a real juggling act," she says. "If I'm working on a film, it's a great release to go into the kitchen, do a little cooking, and spend some time with friends. It's a marvelous antidote to the stressful life of a filmmaker."

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