Thursday, May 1, 2014

Backpacker's Bounty Soup

This was a recent experiment. While working my wilderness therapy job, my mainstay for dinner was a veggie soup/stew thing that consisted of whatever fresh veggies I had, chopped up and cooked with whatever meat I had, all together in a pot with some water and fat to make a broth. But I wanted to see if it would work with dried veggies, too, since that's much more economical for a longer backpacking trip (or a trip where you don't have a support base to send you out fresh food every other day). I tried this on a backpacking trip to Cedar Mesa and it turned out fabulous. The really exciting part is that it's different than other dehydrated meals I've posted in that you don't have to cook a darn thing before you go! OK, that's not true, you have to cook the hamburger meat, but it's much less work than the other meals and doesn't sacrifice anything for flavor. It was our good fortune on that trip that we ended up having to cook a whole package of bacon for breakfast one morning (someone didn't calculate the amount of dehydrated eggs we needed correctly...), so we left the solid 1/4-inch of bacon grease that we rendered in the bottom of the pot all day, and then cooked the soup in it that night, and all of a sudden, miscalculating eggs had turned into a blessing!

1 large zucchini
1 large red pepper
1 large onion
12 large mushrooms
1/2 a package of baby spinach
1 lb. grass-fed ground beef

Chop all the vegetables (except for the spinach) into small pieces and lay out in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Lay the spinach out in a single layer on dehydrator trays as well.

Dehydrate on the vegetable setting (125 degrees) of your dehydrator for about 6 hours (the spinach will take less time, so you can check on that in about 3 hours).

After 6 hours, check vegetables for dryness. If they are still wet, add another hour, continuing to check on them until they are dry.

Cook the hamburger meat in a frying pan until it is cooked through. Crumble it into a thin layer on dehydrator trays and dehydrate on the meat setting (155 degrees) of your dehydrator for about 6 hours.

After 6 hours, check meat for dryness. It will still probably be greasy-looking, but you're looking for it to be sort of stiff and rubbery rather than soft and spongy. I don't have a good way to explain how to know when it's done. When in doubt, dehydrate longer. It's hard to over dry things.

Once everything has been dried, combine it all in a Ziploc bag and keep it in the freezer until ready to use.

To Rehydrate:

  • Backpacker's Bounty Dried Mix (from steps above)
  • 1/2 cup fat of your choice (this is the bulk of your calories in this meal, and the tasty-fying part)
  • sea salt

Put contents of Ziploc in your pot. Pour in enough water to cover, and then some (remember, it's a soup!). When we rehydrated this, I think we dumped a whole liter in it.

Add copious amounts of the fat of your choice (coconut oil, butter, lard, bacon grease).

Bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until you can tell the veggies and meat are getting tender. Turn off the heat, put the lid on, and let sit for 5-10 minutes (This step is important! It really soaks up more water and rehydrates better during this time.).

Salt liberally and serve it up!


  1. Hi, I am curious how many this serves. Starting to prep for a bikepacking adventure with my family.

    1. Hello! This recipe makes a good amount for two people, and depending on how hungry you are you can add more or less fat when you heat it up to eat. This goes well with some crackers (there are some recipes in the snack section of my blog).

  2. I noticed you placed it in the freezer after dehydrating, how long is it good for once you take it out and start hiking? (3-6 hours or sooner?)

    1. Hi Brenna!
      Thanks for your question! The meals will actually last probably up to a month (or more) outside the freezer. It will vary depending on the temperature you keep it at and how much humidity is in the bag (I use silica packets to cut down on moisture). I put them in the freezer if I'm not planning to use them anytime soon, just because I don't want to risk wasting all that food in case it does go bad. I've had a couple things go bad on me unexpectedly, but most things I've made have kept very well for several weeks without freezing. The best thing you can probably do for them though, is to throw in a silica packet or two (I save them from my old pill bottles) and this helps keep down the moisture a lot!