How are your Christmas preparations going? I hope you aren't too stressed! If you're at a loss as to what to give your loved ones or you need a couple of extra stocking fillers - this may be the idea you need! Gift giving can be fun, but it can also be stressful. If you don't know what to buy for someone, or you find yourself in a position where you have to buy something for someone that you don't know very well, then a thoughtful edible gift is a great idea. It means you don't risk cluttering up their lives/houses with something they don't want/need. It also means you don't risk wasting your money on something that they might just re-gift or throw out.
Simple home made gifts also carry a greater degree of thoughtfulness because you took the time out to make them yourself! Classic home made edible gifts include jams, personalised super gingery gingerbread people, and jars full of biscuits - such as spiced shortbread, orange and pistachio biscuits, Croatian cracked pepper spice biscuits,or Afghan pistachio biscuits.
This year, however, I wanted to take a slightly healthier route! Many of my friends and family are trying to eat a bit healthier, either by cutting back on sugars, on wheat or on processed foods. I have no desire to tempt them off their approach to eating a bit healthier!
These jars of bean soup are pretty, easy to personalise, easy to cook (for your recipients) and best of all they are perfect for last minute gifts. All the ingredients can be bought at your local supermarket and they take you only about 10 minutes to assemble.
Here is what you'll need to make 5 jars:
5 x empty 500ml jars
5 x 375g packets of dried beans*
10 bay leaves
5 stock cubes
You can use any beans you like - but try to stick with beans that are all of similar size. Using some small, some medium and some large will result in a soup which will cook unevenly and will be a pain in the arse for your recipients. So steer clear of big lima beans or small lentils. I've used cannellini beans, kidney beans, black eyed beans, dried peas, and chickpeas. All of them have similar cooking times. You could also use: adzuki beans, mung beans, borlotti beans or black beans.
It's not rocket science, simply place 2 bay leaves in the side of the jar and pour the beans in layers into the jar. You'll probably need a scant half cup of each of them to fill it up, but there is no need to measure! Place a stock cube on the top and you're done!
Next you'll need to make up some little labels for the jar. Whatever you like - some cardboard, ribbons, nice pens.
Here is what you need to label to say:
1. Remove bay leaves and stock cube.
2. Soak beans in cold water for 24 hours.
3. Drain and rinse the beans.
4. Put beans, bay leaves and stock cube in a pot with 2L of water.
5. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
6. Add vegetables of your choice and simmer a further 20-30 minutes, or until beans are cooked.