Making sustainable soup mixes with the FASS Engagement team

Comfort food essentials for winter in Vancouver

Mason jars filled with orange and green lentils, stacked on top of jars of coconut milk. On the side are onions, garlic, chile peppers, and a package of bouillon cubes
Add this simple, affordable recipe to your repertoire. Photo: Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson / The Peak

By: Kelly Chia, Staff Writer

On October 28, 2021, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Engagement team put together an event for making sustainable soup jars. Open to FASS students, we had a choice between picking coconut curry and chicken noodle soup. Wanting a little less prep work, I picked coconut curry. I didn’t want to have to buy and boil my own chicken, though I’m sure the other soup would have been equally as comforting.

The soup mixes are sustainable because they have a long shelf life, and you can reuse everything the FASS Engagement team provides. When I entered the event, I was given a mason jar, paper labels for the soup I chose, and instructions on how to prepare it. Then, I took the jar and filled it up with the dry ingredients provided. For the coconut curry, it was:

  • ⅔ cup orange lentils
  • ⅔ cup green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
  • 2 veggie bouillon cubes
  • 1 small dried chilli pepper

For the wet ingredients, you just need water and coconut milk. Coconut milk was already in my pantry, but it costs $2.29 at Save On Foods. If you’re making this recipe immediately, you can substitute the dried chopped onions and garlic with fresh variations. But if it’s going to sit on your shelf until you need some comfort food, dried is the way to go.

As soon as I took the soup mix home, I wanted to prepare it and see how many servings I could make at once. In my experience, lentils are a filling food, so I appreciated that these ingredients alone could make a solid meal. These were the instructions printed on the back of the mason jar:

  1. Remove wrapper from bouillon cubes and add them, all remaining ingredients, four cups of water, and one 14 ounce can of full fat coconut milk to a saucepan. 
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 20 minutes). 
  3. Remove and discard the chilli pepper before serving. Season to taste.

I added some garlic pepper and salt, but found it didn’t need much more seasoning to be tasty. The soup was creamy, but didn’t feel too heavy. Most importantly, it was really comforting for all the rainy nights we’ve been experiencing lately.

This recipe was enough to serve four, which made me really happy as I could make it for my family. These ingredients are reasonably easy to get. I would recommend adding sweet potatoes to the soup to give it a little more substance and match the rest of the sweet flavour profile. Basically, I’d chop one sweet potato up into small quarter-inch chunks and add it to the soup mix when I boil the ingredients.

When I asked if the FASS Engagement team planned to do a similar event in the future, they said they would wait for student responses before planning something. For my part, I’m delighted to have another recipe in my tool belt for the days where I feel like literally just dumping ingredients into a pot and waiting for something magical to happen.