The Mailbox: Reader requests for soup, ‘marriage bars’

Emma’s soup, please

I found out that Emma’s Taco House recently closed. I’ve had many good meals there over the years. I would love to have their recipe for the soup that they served with every meal. I hope someone can help me. I am sure others would love to have it, also.

Marcia Billingsly, Sacramento



If you have recipes in reply to Mailbox reader requests, or questions or comments, write to: Mailbox, c/o Taste, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. You also can email or fax (916)  321-1109. Please include your full name, your city and phone number.

Marriage bars

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Makes 16 two-inch bars

Linda Halsey of Rialto has fond memories of her mom baking date nut bars for her when she was growing up. She was hoping for a recipe.

Karen Austin of Grass Valley doesn’t know the origins of the name of this recipe, but does remember that she got it in a home economics class from the 1960s. Austin says it’s very rich and buttery so she makes these bars for special occasions. Although the recipe doesn’t call for nuts, 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts could easily be added to the dough.



One 8-ounce bag chopped dates

1/3  cup granulated sugar

1/2  cup boiling water

1  teaspoon vanilla extract

1  teaspoon butter


11/2  cups flour

1  teaspoon baking soda

1  cup brown sugar

2  cups uncooked rolled oats, quick or old-fashioned

1  cup butter (use real salted butter), melted


Powdered sugar, optional


For the filling: Place dates, sugar boiling water, vanilla and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

For the dough: Mix the dough’s dry ingredients then add the melted butter. Dough will be crumbly. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil. Press half the dough firmly into the prepared pan. Spread the warm filling on top. Place remaining dough on top of filling and press down gently. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes or until light brown.

When completely cool, lift out of pan using the foil and cut into small bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Per bar: 296 cal.; 3 g pro.; 45 g carb.; 12 g fat (8 sat., 3 monounsat., 1 polyunsat.); 31 mg chol.; 184 mg sod.; 2 g fiber; 37 percent calories from fat.