Most good bloggers have wonderful editorial schedules where they publish stuff like this at a time when it will actually be useful (i.e., before Christmas). I am not one of those bloggers. Like so many people, I spend the weeks leading up to Christmas running errands, gift shopping, gift
wrapping labeling (hubs does the wrapping), making food for the umpteen million potlucks and meals, and attending the zillions of Christmas gatherings. So I focus on doing rather than writing/posting about doing.
Now that things have calmed down a bit, and I have a few minutes, I wanted to share a gift that I've made for friends/family/co-workers for the last two years. These soups in a jar are great for so many reasons.
I've done gifts in a jar before (these cowgirl cookies at Christmas a few years ago) and while they are cute, I feel like they aren't the greatest gift to give because they are more about making ME look good than doing something nice for the recipient. Because making cookies in a jar is actually work, and you need to buy more ingredients (i.e., eggs, butter, milk), and do work. I don't want to make work for busy people. I want to SAVE them work.
And also, frankly, the last thing people need after Christmas is more sugar-laden baking.
So enter lentil soup. I came across the initial recipe on the Good Housekeeping website, but the proportions didn't work right for any of my jars, and it was way too salty. So I adjusted the proportions a bit and have come up with a great adjustment to the recipe that fits perfectly in 500 mL/2 cup mason jars. You can easily double it for 1L mason jars, but then it makes a lot of soup, and in keeping with the idea where I want to make people's lives easier, I want to give them just enough to enjoy, but not so much they are overwhelmed with a huge amount of leftovers.
This recipe is awesome. It's very simple, with no super-processed ingredients. It's suitable for many different dietary needs (it is naturally gluten-free and nut-free, as well as vegan...though I purchase my ingredients at Bulk Barn, so I would not personally guarantee that *MY* jars are nut-free; if allergens are a concern, you should purchase sealed packages of ingredients that are labeled appropriately).
But best of all, the soup is completely easy for the recipient to make and it tastes fantastic. I made 17 jars last year. This year I made 39. Who knows what next year will bring?
I seem to have this terrible habit of unintentionally destroying printers, so I hand-wrote all my labels, and then just decorated the jars with some butcher twine. It's simple and rustic, and I think it looks nice. You could go full-Martha on this if you had the time and inclination.
Lentil Soup Mix in a Jar (this will perfectly fill a 500 mL mason jar)
(modified slightly from Good Housekeeping)
6 oz green lentils (just under a cup)
1 T curry powder
3 T dried minced onion
1/2 t garlic powder (I brain-farted and put 1t in all of mine....they are still good!)
1 T dried parsley
1 t kosher salt
5 oz red lentils (just under a cup)
2 T chopped dried apple
1. Layer ingredients. I like to put green lentils on the bottom, followed by seasonings, then red lentils, then as much chopped apple as I can fit under the lid.
2. Cooking instructions - add three jars of water and simmer 30 minutes (this instruction works no matter how you scale the recipe - 6 cups of water for a 500 mL mason jar, or 12 cups for a 1L mason jar).
Some lentils may need to simmer a bit longer, and people may want to puree the soup a bit (or add more water if they want a thinner soup). But the basic instruction is so simple and requires no extra ingredients and just one pot.
TIP: dried apples rings are a pain in the butt. I drop mine into a running food processor a few at a time. If you aren't making a zillion jars, you could just hand chop them, but they are TOUGH.
If curry is not to your liking, here are a few alternate suggestions (omit the curry for all of these):
classic French - 2 t herbes de provence
italian - 1 t italian seasoning (or mix of basil, rosemary and oregano), 2 T chopped sundried tomatoes in lieu of apples
moroccan - 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t cardamom, 1/2 T cumin, dried cilantro in lieu of parsley, dried raisins and apricots in lieu of apples
southwest/mexican - 1 T chili powder, dried cilantro in lieu of parsley. Omit apples
So better late than never. Pin this one for next year! Or just make up a couple of jars for yourself to keep in the pantry for busy nights.
And might I suggest you pair the soup with a quick salad and this fantastic five-minute focaccia for a deliciously satisfying meal.
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