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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Just add water and stir...well almost.

    So I have decided that some things in life are just not that easy. Let's see...
             Moving. Moving stinks.You have to pack your world into liquor store boxes,scribble on the outside something legible and hope your kitchen utensils don't wind up in your linen closet.
             Most anything that involves renewing your drivers license,taking your car through inspection or waiting in line to renew your car tags after taking that car through inspection.If you live where I live well you know as good as I do,all those things don't actually happen in one day.
               Oh and shopping for presents to give out at Christmas.Now first things first,I'm not saying that shopping isn't fun and buying gifts for your loved ones can't be pretty exciting.I love to shop.I can procrastinate with the best of them when it comes to shopping for Christmas presents.I used to think it was down right exciting to do all my shopping the last week before Christmas and shop until I dropped(and those were the days when I was a little younger and didn't have a husband,house and full-time job).Well shopping last minute still has it's appeal and I'll probably still buy last minute gifts the week of Christmas,but most of my gifts will have already been made and wrapped. Yep,homemade gifts are my cup of tea.
       I don't remember how or where I got the idea for Soup-in-a-Jar,but that was one heck of a lightbulb moment. Break out the sunglasses,oh the glow! It's a fantastic,well-thought out gift and can make a whole house full of folks happy or a bunch of leftovers for just a few people! One of the may reasons I love cooking is I can give to you from my heart,a good meal that not only warms your soul but fills your belly too! The idea of soup-in-a-jar is not a new one,but nonetheless here is my spin on it:
   To make Soup-in-a-Jar :
        Ingredients:This is a pretty economical gift. You go to the store and pick up 4 different kinds of dried beans:green split peas,black beans,brown lentils,red kidney beans and black-eyed peas.To make the broth,I picked up some beef bouillon cubes and for some body,small-shaped pasta.The spices I used to make the spice packet are ones you should have at home already,but if not here's your list: salt,black pepper,garlic powder,italian seasoning,cajun seasoning,bay leaves and dried onion flakes. Now admittedly I didn't have the onion flakes,so my patient husband ran to the grocery for me .Oh and pick up the snack size Ziploc bags and a flat of quart size mason jars,they are a must.
    Directions:These are the ingredients for ONE 1-quart size mason jar.I would assemble the parts before jumping feet first into pouring up the jars full of beans.
*The bouillon cubes. The recipe will call for 12 cups of water.You will use 10 of those cups to make the beef broth with the bouillon cubes.ONE cube makes ONE cup of broth.So put 10 little cubes in one snack-size Ziploc bag.
*The spice packet contains: 1tsp each of salt,black pepper and garlic powder.2 tsp each of Italian seasoning mix,Cajun seasoning mix. 1/4cup dried onion flakes and 1 bay leaf.
*The pasta bag contains 1/2 cup small shaped pasta,such as orzo,alphabet shapes,stars.I like the pasta,probably because I found alphabet-shaped pasta for this years jars. Snazzy.

* I also include in the gift bag: one 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes,14-ounce can of tomato sauce and for a side a box of cornbread mix. Corn muffins just go really well with soup,I'm just saying.The only thing the gift-receiver needs to buy for this is 1 pound of ground beef. Not to shabby for a day-after Christmas dinner.
Assembly:  FROM THE BOTTOM UP: 1/2 cup of each bean,in this order: green split peas,black beans,brown lentils,kidney beans and last black-eyed peas. Then carefully wedge in the bag of pasta into one side of the jar,next the bag of bouillon on the othe side and then carefully squeeze in the spice packet on top. Screw the lid on and lookie there you've got soup in a jar,almost.
Cooking instructions:(I type up directions and tie them to the rim of the jar with some lovely ribbon.)
     1. Open jar,set aside the pasta,bouillon and spice packet.In a large bowl,empty the beans and cover with 7-8 cups of water .LET SOAK OVERNIGHT.
     2. Drain the beans and set aside.In a large skillet brown the ground beef,drain on a paper-towel lined plate.In a large pot combine 12 cups (3qts) of water and all the ingredients EXCEPT the pasta.Bring to a boil,reduce the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.**(while the soup simmers,prepare cornbread,it should be done right as the soup finishes cooking.)Bring back to a boil,add pasta and cook for 7-8 minutes until pasta is tender. Enjoy in a big bowl with a cornbread muffin in hand.


  1. What an amazing gift idea!! I think I'm going to make this recipe but much smaller since its just the two of us :-)

  2. Hey I say make and freeze the leftovers,it sure is great to have dinner made for a night next week!