French Market Soup: Easy GF Vegan Meal & Homemade Gift Idea

French Market Soup Mix is an easy kid-friendly homemade gift idea, and French Market Soup is the perfect hearty winter soup, as easy as it is tasty.

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*
*Or you can take the easy way out, like I do, and just print out recipe cards to attach to your gift. I made up this pretty set several years ago, when I got tired of always having to write out the recipe by hand. If you’d like to download your own copy of this gift-perfect recipe card plus printing instructions, ✅click here.

To prepare your gift jars:

  1. Spray-paint outside of lids if needed, or cut circles of white paper and attach with tape/glue.
  2. Fill jars with soup mix; screw on lids securely.
  3. Cut 9-inch circles of fabric (pinking shears make a pretty decorative edge).
  4. Center fabric over jar lids; secure in place with a rubber band around the neck of the jar.
  5. Punch a hole in your recipe card; thread ribbon carefully through the hole.
  6. 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:

  1. Rinse/sort beans; cover with water and soak overnight.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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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49 thoughts on “French Market Soup: Easy GF Vegan Meal & Homemade Gift Idea”

  1. This looks so delicious, i am secretly hoping someone gives this to me!! But I have to say, I have been looking for a unique gift to give to our family friends that is not only something comforting for the holidays and this crazy time, but something that looks this lovely! Thanks for a great idea! And YUMM!

    1. You are so welcome! It is one of the easiest things there is, and SO delicious/satisfying at the end of a long day!

    1. I’ve given it to many friends over the years – so many people appreciate a meal plan that they can toss in the slow cooker before work, and have a warm home-cooked meal when the day is over!

  2. I LOVE this idea. Winters where I am are long and I love making soups. My little ones will love helping with this.
    AND I love that it’s a DIY gift idea too.
    This will be happening in my kitchen very soon! Thanks for this!!

  3. I love using my slow cooker this time of year, it just makes everything so much easier with the holidays right around the corner. Love this idea. Gotta try it!

  4. I always love gifts like this. Where all the ingredients (well most all) are put together with a recipe. Gives you a chance to try something new without a ton of work.

  5. Soup mixes in a jar are such a thoughtful gift to give! I didn’t realize lemon juice was so important though. Nice touch to add the ribbon.

    1. I never realized about the lemon juice, either, til the first time I forgot to add it. The soup just did not taste the same.

  6. I love making soups during the winter. It is a great way to let my kids help in the kitchen also. These soup in a jar ideas are great and I’ll have to give this exact one a try. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Exactly! I often give this as a new-parent gift, too, along with a few ready-to-heat meals for the freezer. 🙂

    1. It really IS fun to mix up for little kids! And they are indeed “helping” – which makes them feel so good, of course! 🙂

    1. I keep meaning to experiment and make other sorts of bean dishes with the soup mix (vs just the soup) but somehow the yummy soup gets me every time 🙂

  7. This is such a great and unique idea. Who doesn’t like warm hearty soup in the winter? And it’s so personal and the recipe seems very simple to make. Exactly what we all need around the holidays.

  8. We love receiving these kinds of presents. We’ve always wanted to give them out ourselves but didn’t know where to start. This is so helpful!

    1. Aww, I’m so glad you think so! It really is super-easy, and like I said, the hard part used to be writing out the recipe cards by hand, ’til I automated that part 😉

    1. Do! It’s tasty, filling, perfect for these cold winter nights, and an easy meal for settings where all sorts of dietary concerns are an issue!

  9. I love this post! Everything from taking the kids shopping and having them help find the beans to making a gift of the soup mix…this is great! This would also encourage my picky eaters to have some of the soup too. Your posts are always so helpful and practical. Love!!

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you like it, Shayla! And yes, the more you can get them involved, the happier they are with helping to eat the finished product when it’s time to do what we call “quality-control sampling” 🙂

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