Sunday, December 18, 2011

homemade gift: curried lentil soup kit in a jar

Two years ago, we made bean soup kits as a holiday gift for our children's teachers. The kids had fun making them, and feedback from recipients was glowing. Our older son, was particularly keen on this idea, plus we're doing only homemade gifts from the kids to all adults in the family this year, so this is a good one for grandma as well. As with all of the gifts we made this year, this is one little hands can truly participate in. But, in the scheme of homemade gifts, this is a pricier option because of the packaging, so it may not be feasible if you're making gifts for almost 40 teachers and coaches, as we are this holiday season. Smaller group of recipients, go for it!

Our recipe is an adaptation of this one from Food Network. We filled these 38 oz. jars , which happened to have a snowflake blown into them, but you could also go with the standard 34 oz. jar like this one.

Curried Lentil Soup in a Jar Homemade Gift Project
makes six 38 oz. kits, which are 8-10 servings each + a few extra cups of beans so you can test the soup too!

12 lbs of assorted lentils (or about 24 cups)*

spice packet:
2 cubes of Rapunzel vegetable bouillon** 
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 Tablespoon of our homemade spice blend***

Layer the different colored lentils in a 34 or 38 oz. glass jar, leaving about 1 inch of space at the top. Put two bouillon cubes on top of the dried beans. Place bay leaves and spices into a small gift bag or zip-loc, and gently squeeze that into the top of the jar. 

Gift note should read:

Curried Lentil Soup with Sausage, Butternut Squash and Kale

To make the soup, you will need:
large pot
contents of jar
olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 (or more) of your favorite sausages (chicken, pork, or soy...), chopped
2 cups butternut squash, diced
10 cups of water
1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped
salt & pepper (optional)
Greek yogurt (optional, as a topping)

Over medium heat, saute the onions, carrots, sausage and butternut squash in a bit of olive oil until onions are translucent. Add dried lentils,10 cups of water, both bouillon cubes and the spice mixture. Bring to boil, then lower heat so that the soup is at a simmer. Cook soup, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until lentils soften. Remove the bay leaves, and stir in kale. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for another 10 minutes. Serve warm, with a dollop of Greek yogurt, if you'd like.

Soup kit will keep indefinitely in a cool, dry place.

* I purchased 4 lb bags of white, orange and brown lentils at our local Indian Market. You can also buy lentils in bulk at Whole Foods, in the bin section. Or, many markets carry large bags of bulk beans by Goya.
** This is my favorite store-bought broth for soups. By us, Rapunzel bouillon is available at Stewart's Market and Whole Foods. You can also order it in bulk from amazon. I prefer to use the one without salt, so that the recipient can add the amount o salt they'd like.
*** If you also whipped up spice blends for gifts, super. Here's an example of how they're used. If not, simply put a few shakes of your favorite dried herbs into the spice bag, equivalent to about 1 Tablespoon of dried spices, in addition to the 1 T of curry powder. Ideas: rosemary, fennel, garlic powder or granulated garlic, coriander, smoked paprika, Herbs de Provence blend or pepper...

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