Even the best cooking pot will not produce food
~African Proverb ~
If you have lived in Africa your whole life as I have, it is easy to understand the origin of this proverb. Unfortunately, you have to put something into the pot to get food out after cooking. No magical porridge pot here. In South Africa the gap between rich and poor is wider than in any other country where comparable data exist, the World Bank found. And the Coronavirus pandemic has made this many times worse. During Level 5 lockdown in 2020 in South Africa, there was an increase in deaths due to starvation as well as the actual virus. It is almost impossible to try to help even the people living close to us in an informal settlement. I therefore did some research and ended up donating money to Food Forward South Africa.
A South Africa without hunger
A third of the food produced in South Africa goes to landfills as waste, while more than 14 million people go hungry. Most of the wasted food is quality edible surplus food from the consumer goods supply chain. Food Forward SA connects that world of excess to a world of need by recovering and distributing it to community organisations that serve the poor. More than 80% of the food recovered is nutritious food. By donating just R50, Food Forward SA can provide 2 meals daily per month to someone in need. If you have anything to give, doing so to Food Forward SA basically multiplies your money to feed many people. If you want to contribute, have a look at their website, or see ways to donate here.
Every little bit helps
Oxfam South Africa reports that one in four South Africans faces hunger and a further quarter of the population are at risk of hunger. In 2021 my daughter’s school arranged a Jar of Hope drive. You fill jars with soup ingredients so that the recipients only have to cook the contents in boiling water to have a nourishing meal. Unlike my Vegetarian Lentil Soup recipe, the jar needs fewer ingredients and is inexpensive to put together. The retail store The Refillery has also launched a Refill our Nation drive. For R70 you can fill a jar with chicken soup ingredients in their stores to donate to the cause. If you want to make your own jars, here is a quick recipe for the soup mix I made last year.
We mix the soup mix to make the soup mix
Not only are these handy Soup in a Jar mixes created to make soup, but we also use soup mix in it! Quite confusing I know, but it all makes sense.
South Africans will quickly recognise the iconic packages from the dry goods aisle in the supermarket. There are many brands, but I grew up with my dad using these Lion 4-in-1 Soup mixes for winter soups. You can usually find some red lentils, split peas, barley, and sometimes oats in them. They are nutritious, inexpensive and easy to use. You just have to make a stock base to cook it in and you will have soup! This is the base of the Soup in a Jar mix. We add some flavour (instant stock and soup powder), some carbs (pasta) and our Soup in a Jar is complete! The recipient of the jar can simply boil three litres of water, add the Soup in a Jar mix and cook for 40 to 45 minutes stirring often.
Soup in a Jar Mix
- 1 Large glass or plastic jar with a screw-on lid. It can be a recycled jar, but wash and sterilize it beforehand.
- ½ c small pasta shapes shells or small macaroni works best
- 1½ c dried soup mix see note
- ½ c dried brown lentils
- 1 tbsp stock powder veggie or chicken works well
- 1 packet dry soup powder this forms the flavour base of the soup and thickens it. I use brown onion soup or mushroom soup
- Layer the ingredients carefully in the jar so that the different ingredients are separated. I like to start with half the soup mix, then the stock powder, pasta shapes, lentils and soup powder. I top up the jar with the remaining half of the soup mix.
- Close the jar very well and paste a label with the ingredients and directions on the front. My labels look like this:
- Soup mix is a mix of wheat, lentils, split peas and other dried ingredients that are sold mixed together and makes soup making easy and inexpensive.