I love gifting food, but I had to think a bit when a friend suggested I create a meal-in-a-jar recipe. I quickly settled on bean soup, but in my experience such prepacked mixes rely on bouillon cubes that add too much salt and still taste bland. So I set out to see if I could pack one of my favorite bean soup recipes into a jar, along with dried ingredients to give its full flavor in a tidy package easy to gift and use.
This mixed-bean soup recipe was the best fit and just as yummy as the original version with fresh onions and garlic. Whether the onions, garlic and herbs are home-dried or store-bought, the soup will taste best if the ingredients haven’t been lurking in a cabinet for years. This includes dried beans; old beans can take longer to cook and might stay chewy despite extra simmering.
The bean layers given here pack into a quart jar with room to tuck the spice bag on top so that it doesn’t get lost. A half recipe fits into a pint jar. I leave salt and black pepper out of the spice pack, letting the cook add these to taste.
Mason Jar Gifts: Mixed-Bean Soup
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup lima beans
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup red kidney beans
1/4 cup white navy beans
1/4 cup yellow split peas
6 tablespoons dried onion flakes or 2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons dried garlic flakes or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2-1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
In a wide-mouth quart jar, layer the dried legumes in the order listed or as desired. In small zip-close or cloth bag, combine the dried onion, garlic, mustard, basil, oregano, rosemary and parsley. Tuck the spice pack on top of the dried legumes. Cap the jar.
On one side of a card, write “Mixed-Bean Soup” and the date and then list the jar’s contents and the following:
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut in wedges (optional)
On the other side, give the following cooking instructions:
Remove the spice pack. Rinse and drain the remaining jar contents. Pour them into a stockpot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes; remove from the heat, cover and soak for one hour.
Drain, rinse, drain and return the beans to the pot. Add 3 quarts of water, a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes and the spice packet contents. Bring to a boil, and then drop to a simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, until the beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving with lemon wedges, if desired. Serves 8.
Punch a hole in the corner of the card and tie it to the jar before gifting. A printable version of these instructions will be available at TwiceAsTasty.com.
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