Several years back, shortly before Joe and I were married, my co-workers threw me a wedding shower. They even surprised me by telling me we had a lunch meeting in one of the conference rooms and getting there before me to greet me! I was much more pleased with cake than I was with the prospect of a lunch meeting. One of my co-workers (the nutritionist, who else?) gave me a “meal in a mason jar” – some soup mix, bread mix, and brownie mix that she had put together in jars for me to make at a later time. I made it for my parents one weekend when they were visiting and loved the soup so much I asked Sarah for the recipe. Last year at Christmas, I made a similar set of meals for some of my friends. Just because you can make the soup mix ahead of time in a jar, doesn’t mean you have to, though! This soup would be delicious to make any night and serves a crowd.
Makes 16 servings
FOR THE DRY MIX:
1/2 cup dried green split peas
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup medium pearl barley
1/2 cup dried lentils
1/4 cup dried minced onion
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 cup uncooked alphabet pasta or other small pasta
1 pound ground beef (90% lean)
3 quarts water
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
In a 1 ½ pint jar, layer the first seven ingredients in the order listed. Place pasta in a small plastic bag and add to jar. Seal tightly. This can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.
To prepare soup: Remove pasta from jar and set aside. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the beef until no longer pink; drain. Add the water, tomatoes and soup mix; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the pasta, peas, barley and lentils are tender.