Colorful Soup in a Jar
Chris Xaver photo
Nothing is more wonderful in the midst of winter than a pot of soup simmering on the stove. In fact, that might be the only part of winter I look forward to! OK, not quite, but close.
A pot of soup certainly makes it inviting when you come in from the outside. The aromas invite you in. The moisture added to the house (when the constant heat on tends to dry things out) makes the house feel more comfortable.
Imagine giving that gift to someone else. That’s right, with this soup in a jar recipe you can give the gift of comfort this holiday season. And this jar of soup not only looks and tastes great, it’s good for you, too.
Filled with red kidney beans, this soup is a fiber all-star. Beans lower cholesterol and also help moderate blood-sugar levels. Bean fiber helps prevent problems like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis. Not bad for a humble little dried staple.
A study of 16,000 middle-aged men from seven countries over a period of 25 years found the men’s consumption of legumes was associated with a reduction in their risk for coronary heart disease by 86 percent.
Now, onto the next reason I adore the humble and inexpensive bean: protein. As a person who battles hypoglycemia, I need protein to avoid hunger between meals. I try to eat 30 grams of protein at each of my meals. A cup of cooked kidney beans has 15 grams of protein, which is 31 percent of the recommended daily allowance.
This soup is good all by itself and the beans in the mix make it a complete meal. However, in the instructions you write and include with the gift, you can let the recipient know she or he can add more protein to this soup. Ground meats would give it an American chili feel. Cubed pork or chicken would take the flavors more Tex-Mex. Kielbasa would be a great, too, and would change up the taste considerably.
So now onto the gifting process—layering the ingredients in a clean jar. A mason-type jar works well, but if you don’t have one, don’t run to the store. Look in your recycling bin. I’m the queen of recycling. If you’ve got an empty jar, soak off the label and dry the jar thoroughly.
To make the layering pretty, use a funnel (or a piece of paper folded into a cone) to help you place the beans easily. Tip the jar to create unique patterns if you like that better than simple layers. Place the spices in the top in a zippered bag. If you’d like, you can keep them all separate, or mix them together for ease. That’s up to you. This soup needs a can of crushed tomatoes for acidity and flavor. You can give that with your jar, or simply put a note in the instructions.
Spend a few minutes and go online for a host of inspirations as to how to decorate the jar to give away. All you need to do is type in “soup in a jar” and click image with a Google search. You’ll find inspiration enough for 15 Pinterest boards. Give this a try! And keep in mind soup in a jar makes a great hostess gift, too.
Chris Xaver, Ph.D., is a newly remarried local TV and radio personality with a blended family consisting of five children ranging in age from 13 to 28.
Sunny Winter Soup
¾ cup dried red kidney beans
¾ cup dried lentils (brown, red, or yellow if you’d like color in your jar)
¾ cup dried split peas
¾ cup dried black beans
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
3 beef bouillon cubes (low sodium)
3 chicken bouillon cubes (low sodium)
1 single-serving packet True Lemon granules (optional)
1 bay leaf (optional—looks great in the jar!)
Write out the instructions for your recipient on a recipe card or a piece of brown paper bag, punch a small hole in the paper and attach it to the jar with a ribbon. Make sure to give an ingredient list, too, in case your recipient would like to make it again!
Rinse the beans and pick out any stones. Place in a large heavy bottomed soup pot with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Stir in the seasoning and one 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes. Cover and simmer two hours, or until the beans are tender (which will depend on the hardness of the water and the age of the beans). Serve.