Soups and Main Dishes

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Black Beans (Makes 8 servings)

  • 2 cups black beans
  • 2 or 3 yellow onions, diced
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapeqo peppers
  • 2 or 3 milder peppers Anaheim, paprika, or pasilla
  • 2 peppers red, yellow or green bell, or pimiento
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano leaves
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Marukan seasoned gourmet rice vinegar

After drying, the contents of this recipe can be rehydrated into a blackbean soup with a shot of sherry, into a thick refried bean dip, or into Cajun Black Beans by adding Andouille sausage.

At Home:

1. Cover beans with water and soak overnight or for 24 hours, and during this time pour off and replenish bean water several times; this helps prevent flatulence later.

2. Black beans take a long time to cook. Start by cooking them perfectly plain; don't put salt in the water. Simmer partly covered on low heat for at least 5 hours. You don't really need to watch them once you get the heat regulated. You'll get better quality beans if you cook them relatively slowly, don't let them sit and boil. Don't add anything else until they are cooked through. They should be Soft, but not mushy andthis is importantthe liquid they're cooking in should be getting thick. When they are soft, take a potato masher and smash some of the beans in the pot. This releases starch and hastens the thickening.

3. When the bean liquor is thick and rich, prepare the other ingredients. (You could also stop here and dry them plain for other bean dishes on the trail to which you'd add spices later.) Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and ribs (this reduces the hotness) and thinly slice horizontally. Sauti in olive oil for 5 minutes with onions. Add garlic and spices and cook a few more minutes. Add this mixture to beans and continue to cook for another hour, adjusting the seasonings as you wish. Because you're going to dry them, they should cook down very thick. About 15 minutes before taking beans off heat, add vinegar.

4. To dehydrate, spread beans evenly on trays and dry at 145 degrees. They should be completely dry. They won't stick together like fruit leather, they'll be separate and they are rather fragile, so avoid crushing them.

5. Package with vacuum packaging machine, with Seal-A-Meal, or in ziplocs, and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Two cups when dry weighs 8 oz, and 1 1/4 cups dried beans makes 1 large backpacker's serving.

In Camp:

Rehydrate with 1/2 to 3/4 cup water per 1 1/4 cups beans, depending on the dish you're making. The beans will rehydrate in 10 to 15 minutes. Heat and serve.

Basic Spaghetti Sauce (Makes 4 servings)

  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • Optional: 1 tsp jalapeq pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
  • 3 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp leaf oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 3 28-oz cans canned tomatoes, drained
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, minced or 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • salt and pepper

This basic tomato sauce can be used in your backpacking menus for all kinds of dishes: pizza toppings, minestrone or other soups, eggplant parmesan, and, of course, it's a pasta sauce. Make a big batch of it if you like. If you don't have time to dry it all now, freeze and dehydrate later.

At Home:

1. Sauti onions till translucent. Add carrot, celery, jalapeqo pepper, garlic and sauti for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add oregano and sugar and stir for a minute before adding the tomatoes (don't add their liquid).

2. Cook at simmer for at least 2 hours. Don't let it boil; it should simmer for 2 or 3 hours. When the sauce is thick and rich, add basil, parsley, salt and pepper, and red wine. Simmer for 30 more minutes.

3. To dehydrate, spread sauce on trays. Put in dehydrator or oven at 145 degrees until dry. The dehydrated sauce will be pliable, like fruit leather; remove from plastic tray while still warm. Store in refrigerator.

In Camp:

Rehydrate and use as directed in recipes.

French Onion Soup Base (Makes 6 soup servings, 2 to 3 pasta sauce servings)

  • 5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar (helps the onions to brown)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups beef bouillon, boiling
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional: beef bouillon cube

This French Onion Soup is the real thing, and it's an outrageously delicious pasta sauce with Parmesan cheese. You could even rehydrate it to a thick spread and eat on bread. I adapted this recipe from Julia Child's"Soupe ` l'Oignon" in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As she tells us, the onions need long, slow cooking in butter to develop a deep rich flavor.

At Home:

1. Cook the onions slowly with butter and oil in a covered, heavy-bottomed saucepan for 15 minutes.

2. Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in salt and sugar. Cook 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently until the onions are golden brown. They will shrink quite a bit during this time.

3. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for three minutes, then slowly blend in boiling bouillon. This will make a thick sauce. Add wine and season to taste.

4. To dry, spread mixture on drying trays. Dry at 145 degrees until dry. Package and store in refrigerator.

In Camp:

Rehydrate with boiling water. Add optional beef bouillon cube if desired and make into soup (4-6 cups of water), or pasta sauce (1-2 cups). Note: Because of the high oil content, for best flavor, this dish should be dehydrated not more than a week before your camping trip.

Curried Lentil Soup Base (Makes 8 servings)

  • 3-4 cups water
  • 2 14 1/2-oz cans chicken broth
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1 fresh onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 4 tsp Indian curry powder
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

The Indian name for this soup is Dahl Shorba. It can be made from scratch in camp or dried at home into an instant soup. For a hearty meal, add sliced sausage or fresh vegetables (potatoes, carrots, cauliflower).

At Home:

1. Combine water, chicken broth cubes, and lentils. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer on low heat for 20 to 45 minutes or until lentils are cooked through; it won't take long if you use orange or yellow lentils. Keep watching itif it thickens too much you may have to add more water, but add as little as possible.

2. Dice onion, mince garlic and cook and stir them in oil together with curry, coriander seeds (crush with back of cooking spoon) and red peppers over medium heat for 7 minutes. Stir spice mixture into lentils. Cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Cook down to a thick paste, taking care not to burn while it's cooking down.

3. Spread on plastic sheets in dryer. Dry at 145 degrees until dry, about 6 hours. Repackage and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

In Camp:

Rehydrate with boiling water, heat, add water until desired thickness and serve.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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