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Monday, October 31, 2011
Deer Camp Cuisine – Soup Mixes
Powdered/Dried Soup Mixes: By Nancy Brabbit-Davis
These are absolutely the best for deer camp. They are fast, easy to prepare, and only require a single pot. They provide a solid base, can be used as-is, but anything you add to bulk them up is a bonus. Adding fresh meat to any type of dried stew immediately transforms the dish; the meat juices season the mix and enhance the flavors of the vegetables as they rehydrate in the broth. You will be able to find a variety of packaged products at any outdoor store or by searching on the internet. Amazon alone has 277 entries for a search of “dried soup.”
Another tip: instead of just adding water to your dried cheese soup mix, substitute a can of beer for some of the water. Beer cheese soup is a Wisconsin staple and cannot be beat (as it combines two highly favored ingredients – beer and cheese – and for the trifecta you can add sliced up bratwurst). Adding some shredded Cheddar cheese can also create a heartier soup, and create a few more servings.
A little bit of beer can also add a distinct flavor to beef stews – emphasis on a little. Don’t go nuts when adding the beer; you just want to add a hint of beer flavor, not create a beer stew. Of course, this will involve the extra chore of packing beer for deer camp, but many a hunter has found that particular canned liquid to be a worthwhile addition to their deer camp staples.
For more flavor from savory soups or stews you can also substitute chicken or beef broth for some or all of the water required.
There is a tremendous amount of variety in dried soup mixes. Many of them stand alone on their own merit, but adding fresh meat, favorite vegetables, or other seasonings can really transform the flavor. The addition of fresh vegetables is only a positive, and further bulks up your soups and stews making them more filling. For some, no dish is complete without minced garlic, more onion, or a favorite brand of hot sauce. Go easy on the hot sauce if cooking for a group, and let everyone season for themselves at the table.
Camp Traditions Cheese Soup:
This is a favorite. Camp Traditions makes a three cheese soup mix that stands alone with only the addition of water. To kick it up a bit, substitute a can of beer for some of the water, and presto – you know have beer cheese soup. In addition, you can add sautéed onions and/or steamed broccoli florets. Cooked carrots are another nice addition to this soup. For a richer version, substitute some milk for water and add a cup of grated cheddar cheese. This is just a great soup that really warms you up, and is easily customized to your particular tastes, and can be used at home anytime as well as at deer camp or family camping trips. (www.camptraditionsfoods.com)
Camp Traditions Barley Soup or Stew: (Photo at top)
These mixes may include dried meat, but can easily be improved by adding cooked stew-size chunks of fresh game. Of course, you can also add other fresh chopped vegetables such as onions, celery, and carrots. Just sauté the vegetables first, or let them simmer until tender.
Camp Traditions Wild Rice Soup:
This is another great mix and since we really like wild rice, it is great to find a Camp Traditions pre-packaged mix. Again, fresh chopped vegetables will be a welcome addition.
There are a variety of dried chili mixes out there, and while I am a bit skeptical because chili is one of my home-made specialties, there are some great varieties out there, with and without dried meat.
Sides are not Secondary
Finally, if you are making dried soups because you want to, and not because you are not holed up in a barricaded shelter protecting you from zombies or contagious disease, add your favorite fresh bread, biscuits, or muffins to soak up the juices from your soup or stew. We tested with our kids two different varieties of cornbread for this article, and both were well received. There are many brands and varieties in your local grocery store; just test them until you find your favorite.