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Soup-er Warmers for Cool-Weather Camping by Teresa Marrone

Dateline: September 2001
When the days get shorter and the nights get cooler in fall, it's more important than ever to have a quick, easy pick-me-up at camp... one that will warm the bones and refresh the spirit. Soup is a great starter to a larger or more elaborate meal, especially in a group situation. The solo camper, or a pair of campers, will often add cheese and bread to make a full meal out of a hearty soup. And soup makes a satisfying, quick lunch that can be ready in as little as 10 minutes.

In cooler weather, it's easy to become dehydrated because you tend to be less thirsty than during hot weather. But strenuous activity takes its toll,The Basic Essentials of Cooking in the Outdoors and your body still needs a steady supply of fluids to prevent muscle cramps and exhaustion. Soup is a great way to boost your fluid intake during cool weather, as well as pack in the carbohydrates needed for extra stamina.

Thanks to dried foods, you no longer need to slave over a sputtering cookstove or finicky campfire for hours to enjoy a hearty soup at camp. Soups that are easy to prepare suit the schedules of today's active canoeists, hikers, and other outdoors enthusiasts. A few minutes' packing at home before your trip will yield delicious, hearty soups that are easy to cook and satisfying to eat. And if you add some vegetables that you've dried at home, you can add terrific variety to your camping fare.

Here are a few soup recipes that are sure to take the chill off your fall camping trips. They're adapted from The Back-Country Kitchen: Camp Cooking for Canoeists, Hikers, and Anglers.

Potato-Dill Chowder

Combine in quart plastic zipper bag:

  • 1/2 cup dried ''hash brown'' potatoes (you'll find these with the dried mashed potato mixes at your supermarket)
  • 1/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder (such as Carnation)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon-flavored bits (Bac-Os)
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried bell pepper flakes (found in the spice aisle of a supermarket, or dry your own following the instructions in Drying the Fall Harvest
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried dill leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Butter Buds or Molly McButter (in the spice aisle at the grocery store), optional
  • A pinch of crumbled dried thyme leaves
  • A pinch of white pepper

At camp: In medium pot, boil 2 cups water. Add dry mix. Stir thoroughly. Cover; remove from heat and let stand about 15 minutes. Return to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes (if soup seems too thick, add a little more water). (2 servings)

Beef-Barley Soup with Caraway Dumplings

In small plastic bag, combine:

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk baking mix (like Bisquick)
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed caraway seeds

Combine in quart plastic zipper bag:

  • 1 package (1 ounce) freeze-dried diced beef*
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 2 tablespoons freeze-dried or home-dried green peas
  • 1 tablespoon beef bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon fines herbes mixture (parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil)
  • A quarter of the dried leather from an 8-ounce can tomato sauce**
  • A pinch each black pepper and cayenne pepper

At camp: Set aside the small bag with the baking mix. In medium pot, boil 4 cups water. Add beef-barley mix. Return to gentle boil; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While soup cooks, make dumplings: in medium bowl, combine baking mix with 1/4 cup cold water; mix quickly with fork until just moistened.

When soup has cooked for 10 minutes, drop dumplings in 6 balls on top of soup. Cover soup; continue cooking for another 10 minutes without removing cover. Dumplings should be firm to the touch and dry in the center when cooked. (2 or 3 servings)

*Look for plain freeze-dried beef at your camping store. Or, visit one of the on-line merchants such as Richmoor or REI.

**To dry tomato sauce in your oven: line cookie sheet with plastic wrap (secure edges with tape to keep in place). Pour tomato sauce evenly over the plastic wrap. Dry in oven set at 140 degrees or lower (prop oven door open slightly) until leathery and completely dry, 4 to 6 hours. The dried tomato leather should peel easily from the plastic, and there should be no sticky spots.


For more information on packing your own lightweight foods, check out Drying the Fall Harvest and Drying the Fall Harvest: Part Two. These two articles feature home-drying instructions for vegetables, fruits and meat, and several more recipes especially for campers!

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Techniques and recipe excerpted from The Back-Country Kitchen: Camp Cooking for Canoeists, Hikers, and Anglers, by Teresa Marrone. This 208-page book features over 150 recipes for campers, as well as complete home-drying instructions for over 50 foods. Article copyright 2000 Teresa Marrone; used with permission. All rights reserved.


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Drying Fall Harvest Eating Without Cooking

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