Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Test run on teacher gifts (9 Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale)

My older son’s school encourages the little ones to make (not buy) holiday gifts for their teachers. In past years, we have made tins of the most decadent candied pecans ever…delicious to eat, but laborious. (And not the kind of labor my little ones can help with since it involves stirring hot, sugary nuts over and over, every ten minutes.) So this year, I was trying to think of a gift the kids could really help make, and that wouldn’t be “screwed up” if my almost three year old wanted to get in on the action. A local friend sent me the most gorgeous photos from her child’s Montessori service day, where the children gathered to assemble bean soup mixes for families in need. The jars were pretty to look at, I know they are good to eat, and if a teacher is inundated with baked goods and hand-painted mugs at holiday time, this could be a nice alternative—particularly if we make it based upon the delicious bean soup I regularly whip up for my family when the weather gets chilly.

Lots of websites have recipe ideas for 1 quart jars. Fine if you can find 1 quart jars, which I couldn’t. Closest thing to it was a 1.6 quart jar at Container Store. Just keep in mind, that if you find yourself in the same predicament, simply adjust recipes by 1.5.

Last weekend we assembled the jars. The kids scooped away. The beans were flying, and they had a ball. It is impossible to “mess up” this recipe, as all that is required is filling the jar with some assortment of beans. We used kidney, black eyed peas, barley, split peas, lentils, small red beans, black beans, chickpeas, and pinto beans. My older son made sure to get all nine types of beans into each jar, my younger son was more willy nilly, and he was just happy when the beans went in the jar. Needless to say, I bought extra beans since I knew I'd be vacuuming up a lot of beans…

Then I sent my younger one to Starbucks with dad so I could tackle the (more precise) seasoning packets with my older son. Our seasoning packet was made with a teaspoon each (or so) of: oregano, basil, tarragon, thyme, dried onion, chili powder, coarse pepper, dried lemon peel, parsley, garlic powder, and smoked paprika….I learned afterwards that Costco carries an Organic No-Salt Added Seasoning mix, which I would probably opt for next time!
I gave a jar a test run today, as it was my cook day for our Wednesday Supper Swap, and the soup is delicious.

9 Bean Soup (with Sausage & Kale)
1.6 quarts (about 6 cups) of dried beans (any type)
Two 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes (I used ones with garlic and basil)
Two 34 ounce boxes of broth (I used organic chicken broth)
Seasonings/spices of choice (add in stages; you can always add more but not take it out!)
Optional – Sausages (I used Turkey Kielbasa)
Optional – Greens (I used a big bunch of kale)
Soak the beans overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the beans.
In a large stock pot, sauté the sausage in a bit of olive oil. (If this is strictly a bean soup, skip this step.)

Add the pre-soaked beans, enough broth so the beans are covered by about 2 inches of liquid, and 2 cans of diced tomatoes (as is, don't drain them).

Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, letting the soup simmer for 2 ½ hours, or until beans are tender. You'll want to stir the soup every 1/2 hour or so, to prevent any beans from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
If you are adding kale (or any other leafy green) you’ll want to do so about the last 15 minutes of cooking.

This soup freezes beautifully, so go ahead and make a huge pot. It’s also a crowd pleaser after an afternoon of sledding.


  1. Just made this bean soup....DELICIOUS. I made it both with the kielbasa as well as a vegan version. So simple and perfect for this chilly weather. Going to share with friends this afternoon at our book club lunch.
    Thank you!

    Kathy K

  2. Was searching around for soup in a jar mixes and came across this one. Have you ever tried to make it in the crockpot??

  3. i have not.... but that's just because I don't happen to have a crock pot! i would imagine it would be wonderful!!


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