Camp Kitchen: Savory Soups

March 16, 2007
Filed under Camping Recipes, Main Dishes, Soups

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Keep your soup pot at a slow simmer with chowders, gumbos and broths to warm the camper’s soul on cold, spring days when campgrounds are hushed and uncrowded. With recipes like these, you can rush the season.
Logging Camp Pepper Pot
The shortcut to this hearty soup is a fully cooked pot roast. Find one in the meat department in a dated vac-pac that will carry for days in your ice chest. The onion and pepper can be diced ahead at home and carried in a plastic bag in the ice chest up to three days.
1 fully cooked pot roast, 12 to 16 ounces
2 cups water
32-ounce carton beef broth (1 quart)
15- or 16-ounce can diced carrots, with juice
12- to 16-ounce bag grated cabbage
32-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
Large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red sweet pepper, diced
Salt, pepper
2 cups biscuit mix
Drain any juice or gravy from the beef roast into a large soup kettle and dice the meat. Add it to the kettle with the remaining ingredients, except biscuit mix. Cover, bring to a boil over high flame, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add seasonings. Add enough water to the biscuit mix to make thick dough and carefully drop by the teaspoonful into the boiling soup. Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes then cover and cook 10 minutes more without peeking. Serves 6 to 8 persons.

Herder’s Potato Pot
Make this with chicken, beef or vegetarian bouillon cubes and serve it with torn chunks of peasant bread. Buy a bunch of parsley and, without taking off the band, dunk it in water until it’s clean. Drain well, then wrap in a clean kitchen towel and keep on ice up to three days. Holding the bundle by the stem end, use scissors to cut the leaves into tiny bits. Discard the still-bundled stems.
2 large onions, diced
2 tablespoons butter
15 or 16-ounce can diced carrots, drained
3 cans, 15 or 16 ounces each, diced potatoes, drained
6 cups water
6 bouillon cubes
1/3-cup potato flakes
Small can (2/3-cup) evaporated milk
Salt, pepper
1 bunch parsley, snipped
Sizzle the onions in the butter over medium heat, gradually stirring in the carrots and potatoes. Add the water and bouillon cubes, cover, reduce heat and simmer until the onions are tender and flavors blended. Stir in the potato flakes until well blended. Add seasonings. Turn off heat, stir in the milk and ladle into soup bowls. Shower generously with snipped parsley. Serves 6 persons.

Basil Bean Sundowner Soup
Make this soup as a vegan dish with or without tofu or add meat if you wish.
1 large potato, scrubbed and diced
1 pound baby carrots, cut in half
2 large onions, diced
2 or 3 large stalks celery, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 quarts water
6 vegetarian, chicken or beef bouillon cubes
16-ounce can short-cut green beans, drained
1 cup uncooked small pasta such as ditalini
6-ounce can tomato paste
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
1 heaping tablespoon dried basil
16-ounce can white beans, navy beans or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Optional additions:
1 or 2 cans, 10 ounces each, chunk chicken or
12-ounce brick firm tofu, in bite-size cubes or
Half a 16-ounce canned ham, diced
In a large soup pot swizzle the potato, carrots, onions and celery in olive oil over high-medium heat. Add the water and bouillon cubes, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Bring back to a low boil, stir in the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Adjust seasonings. Serves 6 to 8 persons.

Good ‘n Polenta Chili Soup
You’ll need the equivalent of two pounds ground beef or turkey. It’s easier and safer to carry fully cooked crumbles.
2 tablespoons oil
2 pounds ground meat or
2 packages fully cooked ground beef crumbles
6-ounce can real bacon bits
Large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
Heaping tablespoon minced garlic
10-ounce can enchilada sauce
8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2-teaspoon cumin
16-ounce tube polenta
4-1/2-ounce can chopped black olives, drained
8-ounce package shredded Monterey jack cheese
Optional garnishes:
Chopped fresh tomato
Sliced scallions
In a large pot, stir-fry the crumbles in hot oil with the vegetables and garlic until everything is softened. Add enchilada and tomato sauces, water and seasonings. Cover and simmer over low heat until onions are tender. Slice the polenta into one-inch slices and cut each slice in half. Arrange the slices atop the simmering soup, sprinkle with chopped olives, cover and heat thoroughly. Ladle into shallow soup plates and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Garnish if you wish.

Soup-erior Tips
* To rinse and drain canned vegetables in the can, open almost completely with a can opener, leaving lid attached. Drain. Fill the can with water and drain, again using the lid to keep contents in place. Repeat once for potatoes, twice for beans.
* Condensed soups save space and time. Experiment with blends such as bean and minestrone, cream of tomato and split pea, cream of chicken with chicken-dumpling. They’ll taste more homemade if you brown a little diced onion in butter in the pan before adding soups.
* Root vegetables (rutabaga, turnip, carrot, potato, onion, parsnip) keep for weeks in your grub box. Peel and dice a colorful medley into simmering broth, cook until tender and soup’s on. If you wish, add meat, tofu, evaporated milk, grated cheese or canned tomatoes.
* To thicken soup that is too watery add a can of cream-style corn, instant rice or potato flakes.
* Buy large, crusty rolls. Cut out centers in one chunk, leaving a bread shell. Put shells in soup bowls. Spray centers lightly with buttery oil and toast them on sticks over the campfire. Ladle soup into shells and serve toasted centers on the side.
* Whisk eggs and slowly pour them into a kettle of boiling broth while stirring in circles. The eggs will form stringy noodles. You’ll need one or two eggs per quart of broth.
* To thicken bean soup, plunge a potato masher into it several times, mashing some of the beans.
* Butter bread and place butter side down in a nonstick skillet. Sprinkle generously with shredded Swiss cheese and heat until bread toasts on the bottom and cheese melts. Float atop bowls of onion soup from a can or mix.
*Put two cups boiling water in a wide-mouth, quart-size thermos bottle. Add a packet of onion soup mix and stir with the handle of a wooden spoon. Fill to the top with boiling water. Screw lid tightly and tip gently to mix. Four to six hours later, tip gently to mix and cooked soup is ready to pour.
* To heat ready-to-eat canned soup, remove tops and labels, place in a pan with two inches of water, cover and boil 10 minutes. Handle with oven mitts and eat it right out of the can.

Janet Groene’s books include “Cooking Aboard Your RV.” Join her at CampAndRVCook.blogspot.com.

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