1. Wash, rinse and dry canning jars.
2. Layer beans in jars. Add 1/4-cup of each type of bean to the jars, layering the beans. Choose the most colorful bean for the bottom layers of the jar. Add eight 1/4-cup layers to each jar.
3. Place 1 bay leaf and one bouillon cube on top of the beans in each jar.
4. Seal each jar using lids and rings.
[Hint for FoodSaver brand vacuum sealer owners: use the jar sealing attachment to seal bean soup jars for longer storage.]
5. Cut appropriate amount of 7-inch circles from cotton fabric. Top each jar with fabric circle, and tie with ribbon.
6. Print appropriate number of gift tags. Cut gift tags apart and attach to jars with ribbon. Or, hand-write recipe tags using the recipe below.
Set aside bouillon cube and bay leaf and choose method to soak
Quick soak: Rinse and sort beans in a large pot. Add 6-8 cups of hot water. Bring to a rapid boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain soak water and rinse beans.
Overnight soak: Rinse and sort beans in a large pot. Add 6-8 cups cold water. Let stand overnight, or at least 6 to 8 hours. Drain soak water and rinse beans.
To cook: Place beans in a large pot. Add:
6 cups water
1 can (14 oz.) chopped tomatoes in juice
Simmer gently until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
More information: Tips to Make Gifts in a Jar