Meatless Monday Meal Idea and Kid-Friendly Homemade Gift: French Market Soup Mix
Are you looking for
- a delicious, hearty, slow-cooker meal?
- an easy vegetarian/vegan option that can feed a crowd, for pennies per serving?
- a homemade gift idea that’s easy for littles to help make?
French Market Soup Mix covers all these and more. It’s one of my favorite soups to make in the wintertime.
With Christmas coming, I’ve got another batch of this delicious, hearty winter comfort food mix ready for gifting and cooking, and am lining up my jars and decorating supplies. And though there’s also a non-vegetarian/non-vegan option that’s perfect for the leftovers from that Christmas ham, the meat-free version is just as tasty.
Want to learn how to make this easy-peasy gift and cook up a batch of this yummy soup? Then read on!
French Market Soup: Mix and Recipe
1. Making the soup mix
This is the kid-friendly messy-fun part: Go to the grocery store – preferably with your littles – and buy one bag of every kind of dried bean you can find. (Hint: Look in the ethnic foods/Latino foods section for the greatest variety.)
Kidney beans, red beans, pink beans, navy beans, black beans, ceci (chickpeas) – whatever you can find. Also grab a bag each of yellow split peas, green split peas, and each kind of lentil you see. For a fun STEM learning challenge, have your kiddos figure out which brand of each kind of dried bean has the lowest unit price per pound.
Once you’ve purchased your beans and brought them home, get out a new, unused trash bag. Carefully empty each bag of beans into the trash bag, and then gently (so you don’t tear holes in the bag), from the outside, move the bag around to mix up the contents. Kids love helping with this part!
Once you have the contents thoroughly mixed, carefully transfer the contents into several large airtight storage containers. Or put the soup mix directly into ✅pint-sized mason jars. (We like to reuse nut butter jars, but only for friends who don’t have any nut allergies!)
2. Prepping your homemade gifts
For gifting French Market Soup Mix, you’ll need
- Clean glass or plastic jars with lids, approximately 14-16 oz (2 cup) capacity
- White paper/glue/tape (or spray paint) to cover the jar lids, if you’re reusing jars that have printing on the lid
- Pretty fabric, rubber bands, and ribbon for decorating the jars
- Recipe cards on which to write the recipe*
To prepare your gift jars:
- Spray-paint outside of lids if needed, or cut circles of white paper and attach with tape/glue.
- Fill jars with soup mix; screw on lids securely.
- Cut 9-inch circles of fabric (✅pinking shears make a pretty decorative edge).
- Center fabric over jar lids; secure in place with a rubber band around the neck of the jar.
- Punch a hole in your recipe card; thread ribbon carefully through the hole.
- Attach ribbon to jar neck so it covers the rubber band.
3. Making French Market Soup
Now that you’ve got your soup mix made and your gift jars prepped, it’s time to enjoy some with your own family!
When preparing this soup, you have two basic choices to make:
- You can do the simmer-on-the-stovetop version OR the slow-cooker version;
- And you can make the soup with ham/a ham bone, OR prepare the ham-free, vegetarian/vegan option.
Ready for the recipe? Here you go:
French Market Soup
What you need:
- 2 c. French Market Soup mix
- 2 quarts water or stock*
- (OPTIONAL) 1 ham slice. 1/2 inch thick, OR ham bone (omit for vegetarian/vegan soup)
- 1 1/4 t. salt
- 1/4 t. pepper
- 1 16-oz can whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- (OPTIONAL) 1 chili pepper, coarsely chopped
- (OPTIONAL) 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- (OPTIONAL) 2 stalks celery (leaves included), chopped
- 1/4 c. lemon juice
The basic idea:
- Rinse/sort beans; cover with water and soak overnight.
- For stovetop cooking: Drain. Add 2 quarts water, (ham,) salt, and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 1.5 hours, or until beans are tender. Add remaining ingredients; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chop meat/return to soup, OR remove ham bone if you used one.
- For slow-cooker version: After soaking beans overnight in Crock-Pot, add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Add enough water or stock to cover ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 3 hours, then reduce heat to LOW and cook an additional 8-14 hours. (Or cook on HIGH 4-6 hours.)
- Serve with a salad and some crusty bread. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
You can skip the ham, you can leave out the carrots or celery, but DON’T OMIT THE LEMON JUICE!
Just trust me. I’ve done this once or twice, and the results just aren’t the same.
Likewise, you really do want to sort the beans before soaking. You’d be surprised at how many little pebbles make their way into a bag of beans.
If you enjoyed this step-by-step plus recipe for French Market Soup Mix, please share by pinning this image!
(and don’t forget to ✅download your free printable recipe cards, too!)
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