I have the unusual and pleasurable circumstance of being alone right now in my friends' home in Hood River, Ore., with 9 inches of snow on the ground outside.

Dinner time is just a few hours away, and the thought of a simmering cauldron filled with whatever I can find in her refrigerator thrown in - along with some herbs, spices and maybe some wine - is eminently comforting.

As I prowl around the unfamiliar larder, I recall the women of my childhood and their famous soups.

Aunt Evey (fondly known in the family as "Little Evey") was short (hence the nickname), wildly energetic and undeniably the best cook in our extended family. A visit to her home on Long Island, N.Y., from our little apartment in Queens was an expedition of note.

We could be sure of a meal that was unique, well planned and - in the childish eyes of my sister and me - radical. Little Evey could be counted on for making everything lovingly from scratch.

Many years later, on a visit to her home when I already was the owner of the Madison Park Cafe, she wowed us once again with one of her creations: her sweet-and-sour cabbage borscht.

I admiringly complimented the effort and time that I was sure must have gone into it. How shocked was I to find that it was a miraculous mingling of canned sauerkraut and canned tomatoes with a bit of brown sugar that created this culinary magic.

My other Aunt Evelyn (larger and more foreboding and known as "Big Evey" for heretofore noted reasons) made soups reflective of her character: thick beef and barley, potato and parsnip soup and mushroom soup with kasha varnishkas.

Big Evey was my mother's sister and was thus a comforting character for me, and her soups could always evoke my primal feeling of well-being.

The third fury of my childhood and not the least important was my mother who felt the world had released her from kitchen bondage with the invention of the pressure cooker. She would put whatever she fancied into the pot, seal the lid, wait for the pressure to build, listen for the telltale whistle, then jiggle and refit the top snugly.

She would then happily depart from the kitchen, generally to read one of her several started books, until the requisite time had passed.

When she would return to the kitchen to unveil her creation I would hide in the dining room as she removed the lid, certain that either the pot or she would explode.

I hope that the two Eveys' soups will warm your spirits this winter.