Friday recipe: soup in a jar

Are you still running around like a crazy person doing that last-minute holiday gift shopping? Just stop. Avoid the mall madness with the perfect gift that everyone will welcome, that won’t cost you your left kidney and that’s fun to make: Lana Jackson’s gift jars.

Lana guides DMU students in assembling soup mixes in gift jars.
Lana guides DMU students in assembling tasty recipes in gift jars.

Lana is a former DMU employee who, with her husband, Shannon, literally “bought the farm,” where they strive to “raise healthy food and happy animals.” You can follow their farming adventures and find some of her artistic/crafting endeavors on Facebook at Gnome Range Farms LLC.

Lana calls herself “cheap,” but really she’s one of the most creative, crafty and resourceful people I’ve ever met. The recent lunch-and-learn she gave in the DMU Wellness Center teaching kitchen about gift jars reflected that, as she shared fun ideas with students and employees on decorating canning jars and filling them with pre-made concoctions that look lovely, taste great and give the gift of convenience.

In addition to the lovely layers in the jar, take some of Lana’s tips for decorating it on the outside. A paper cupcake holder, draped upside-down on top, makes a cute “skirt” once you screw on the lid. Attach small ornaments, candy canes or dried flowers with ribbon tied around the top of the jar. Affix photos or stickers to the round lids. And be sure to attach the recipe to the jar.

One more great idea from Lana: Have a gift jar party. Canning jars are inexpensive and typically come in sets; buy a box and the soup ingredients, gather decorations and invite friends to join you in assembling them.

Not only are they great gifts, these jars are fun to assemble with friends!
Not only are they great gifts, these jars are fun to assemble with friends!

Friendship soup in a jar
Add to each jar in this order:

  • 1/2 cup dried split peas
  • 1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils
  • 1/4 cup dried onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni or other pasta, sealed separately in a small Ziploc bag

Additional ingredients when you’re ready to make the soup:

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey or stew meat
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 6 onces tomato paste
  • 3 quarts water
  • Black pepper and garlic to taste

Remove pasta from top of jar and set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, brown meat with pepper and garlic; drain excess fat. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water and soup mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the pasta, peas, lentils and barley are tender.

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