Purim is coming! One of the mitzvos (commandments) unique to the Jewish holiday of Purim is to deliver gifts of food, called Mishloach Manos, to friends and family. The parameters of this mitzvah require each Jewish adult to send a minimum of two ready-to-eat-foods to at least one person.
I like to send Mishloach Manos that are nutritious and can be served at the Purim seudah, the festive meal served on Purim day. One of my favorite ideas for Mishloach Manos are mason jar soups served with croutons. They are simple to prepare in advance, easy to package and are well-received by our recipients. The croutons can me made from leftover bread or challah. It is a great way to use up leftover bread and challah that you have stored in the freezer. The mason jars themselves are useful to those receiving them and can be reused in a myriad of different ways.
The source for Mishloach Manos is read on Purim from the Megillah, the scroll chronicling the story of Purim in Hebrew. After the Purim victory , Mordechai, the hero of the Purim narrative, ordered his fellow Jews ” to make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar… feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.”
Sending Mishloach Manos is in keeping with the overwhelming Purim theme of unity and friendship. When the Purim villain, Haman, asked the Persian King Ahashverosh to destroy the Jews, he said “There is a certain people who are scattered and separate…” In contrast, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, understood that Jewish unity was vital and a strong prerequisite to G-d’s salvation. Queen Esther instructed that the Jews assemble to fast and pray on behalf of the Jewish future, because she understood that we merit G‑d’s blessing when unified. G-d saved the Jews in Ancient Persia because of this assemblage and unity. The Purim Mishloach Manos strengthen our bonds of friendship within our Jewish community.
I used Purim-themed cookie cutters to shape the croutons. If you don’t have Purim cookie cutters, you can just cube the bread or cut them into triangular shapes.
The Purim cookie cutter set include a mask, a scroll-shaped megillah, a gragger, a crown and a triangle. The mask symbolizes the custom of dressing up to symbolize G-d’s Purim salvation disguised in ordinary events. The megillah represents the scroll with the story of Purim that we read on Purim. The gragger is a noisemaker that we use to obliterate the name of Haman, the Purim villain, in the Megillah’s account of Purim. The crown represents Queen Esther’s royal position and her important role in the Purim outcome. The triangle represents both the three-corner hat worn by Haman, the villain and the source of the strength of the Jewish nation, our three forefathers.
Your favorite soups (check out the soup category under recipes in this blog)
Mason jar with lid
Clear triangular or rectangular plastic party bag
Thin ribbon or rubber band
gift tag with thin string or ribbon
leftover bread or challah
oil or cooking spray
Garlic Salt or Italian Seasoning (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Remove crusts from stale bread slices. Brush bread on both sides with oil or spray with oil cooking spray. Sprinkle with garlic salt or Italian seasoning. Cut bread slices up into small triangles and/or cut into Purim shapes with cookie cutters.
Place croutons in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned. Shut oven and be careful to watch the croutons, so they do not burn. Allow to cool before packaging.
Print Purim labels (round mason jar purim labels). Cut out and affix to top of mason jar using glue stick.
Decant you favorite soup into a mason jar and close lid securely. Place room-temperature croutons into a clear plastic bag, placing smaller croutons in base of triangular bag and larger croutons at top of bag.
Tie crouton bag with a decorative ribbon. Attach crouton bag to mason jar with a thin ribbon or secure with a doubled rubber band.
Label the package with a small gift tag and send to your friends and family members.