Our Spicy Three-Bean Soup makes dinner in a jar, the perfect present for busy people. Give along with a bag of corn chips or tortilla chips.
For seasoning mix, in a small plastic bag, combine dehydrated mixed vegetables, tomatoes, bouillon granules, dried onion, parsley, Mexican seasoning, garlic powder, chipotle chile pepper and bay leaves. Seal; set aside.
For soup mix, layer in a 1-quart glass jar or a 32-ounce canister or container with a tight-fitting lid the following ingredients, adding each ingredient at a time in this order: the pinto beans, kidney, beans and navy beans. Tap jar gently on the counter to settle each layer before adding the next. Place bag of seasoning mix in jar. Cover the jar.
Give as a gift (or store the layered jar of soup ingredients at room temperature up to 1 month) and attach a recipe card with the following instructions:
1. Before using, remove seasoning mix; set aside.
2. Rinse beans. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine beans and 4 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand for 1 hour. (Or place beans in water in pan. Cover; let soak in a cool place overnight.) Drain and rinse beans.
3. In the same saucepan or Dutch oven combine beans, 6 cups fresh water and seasoning mix. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until beans are tender. Discard bay leaves.
4. For slow cooker: Rinse beans. Place in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add 4 cups cold water to cover. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 1 hour. Rinse and drain beans. Transfer beans to a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Add 6 cups fresh water and seasoning mix. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Discard bay leaves. Stir before serving.
5. Serve soup topped with corn chips. If you like, sprinkle each serving with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Makes 6 servings.