After years of cookie exchanges, jamfests, and baking extravaganzas, my friend Terry Jaurequi and I found a simple and delicious handmade gift for our friends and work colleagues. We get together to assemble an enormous batch of minestrone soup mix, which we then package for holiday delivery.
Some years we have added a quick bread mix, or yummy crackers. Other times, we give the mix in a basket or tote bag with a nice bottle of wine. We have found that our friends like the soup so well they start asking about it right after Thanksgiving.
Since it is a little difficult to squeeze dried beans through the internet, here is a holiday gift to my genea-blogging friends — the mix recipe and PDF package tag with cooking instructions ready for holiday gift-giving. Print the tag, assemble the mixes, and you are ready to go. It could be the ultimate re-gift! Stir up a batch of Merry Christmas Minestrone to cook while you make these gifts for your own friends, and enjoy. Bon Appetit!
What You Need:
- assorted dried beans, lentils, peas, etc. (1 1/2 cup per mix)
- macaroni (1/2 cup per mix)
- 2 sizes cellophane bags for packaging – small sucker size for macaroni, larger for mix
- Merry Christmas Minestrone PDF cooking instructions to print and add to each mix
A note on selecting beans – We try to use a nice variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Nine pounds of beans will yield about 14 packages of mix. We like to use black beans, red kidney beans, small white beans, pink beans, green and yellow split peas, lentils, garbanzos, baby limas, pinto. We buy at least 1 pound bags.
Find a huge pot. I use my canning kettle so there is plenty of room to mix things up. Dump in all the beans, peas, and legumes. Mix well using your hands.
Use a glass 2-cup measuring cup to measure out about 1 1/2 cup of bean mixture and pour into the larger cello bag. A canning funnel is helpful for filling the bags. It’s also a good idea to set the bags in a roasting pan or some other container that will help them to stand upright.
Pour 1/2 cup of macaroni to each of the smaller bags and fold the top over tightly. Staple closed if you like. Add the small bag of macaroni on top of the bean mixture in each bag.
Fold the cooking instructions so that the name shows on the front with the recipe on the back and staple to the top of the bag. Add a ribbon or bow if you like; or place the bag inside a tote bag with colored tissue.
Here is the recipe for each mix that is printed on the PDF, ready to cut and fold for your mixes.
Merry Christmas Minestrone
Put water in large pot and add bean portion of soup mix. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Add canned tomatoes (undrained), onion, and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add vegetables, tomato sauce, additional water, and macaroni. Lower heat and cook until macaroni and vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add meat if desired, and heat through.
Makes 6 to 8 hearty servings.