Let’s get one thing straight. I love soup.
So as we count down towards April 20, my PCT start date, I have begun to contemplate my food. Food, that thing that all hikers obsess about, come together over, barter with, and more often than not, get bored of. If I have set one personal goal for the trail it is that I never want to get tired of the food I eat. Secondly, I suppose, is that I want to have some of the tastiest home-cooked meals out there, but that is besides the point.
Over the weeks I have scoured dozens of websites, bookmarked scores of recipes, and have begun to make them to see if they pass my three-part PCT Food Test. The first criteria the recipe in question must pass is the Taste Test. It’s not like I’m going to bring food that I don’t think that I could eat for a week straight and not get tired of, because let’s be honest… that might happen. The second test is the Dehydration Test. It must dehydrate relatively quickly and be able to store and pack out well. The third and final test, the Rehydration Test. Does the food hydrate quickly? Is it still tasty after rehydrating? Is the overall texture appetizing/tolerable? If any recipe passes these tests, it gets moved into my “Final PCT Meals” bookmark folder for later mass production. But, more on that later.
Since it is already nosediving in temperature here in Michigan, the food I have been most drawn to making is soup. That wonderful elixir of warm, delicious and soul-nurturing goodness that can bring contentedness on even the dreariest of days, yes, soup is what I have been making for nearly 2 weeks straight with (hopefully) no end in sight.
Soup is a fantastic trail meal.
It has endless variations, hydrates and reheats quickly, can be tasty even without heating, can easily have noodles thrown into it for even more calories, and in a pinch can even be used as a dip, sauce, or spread. A world without soup is not a world I want to think about (have I mentioned that I love soup?). The soups I have been testing lately are the perfect combination of hearty, calorie-dense, and healthy.
Two of the most successful soups that have passed my Food Test are a delicious, spicy carrot ginger soup, and a creamy leek and potato soup. I keep preparing these to dehydrate but they somehow manage to disappear before they can hit the trays. While the carrot ginger soup may not have a lot of calories, it makes up for in it’s health factor. Full of vitamin A and C and paired with the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger and tumeric, it is a great nutrient-packed snack or meal in a place where junk foods tend to abound. Not to mention that it can be made with less water and becomes a great spread over tortillas with hummus.
And where to begin with the leek and potato soup… I could probably eat this classic soup for decades and not get tired of it. And by probably I mean I absolutely could. High in calories, not to mention fiber, iron, and vitamin C, and packed with delicious potato-leek flavor (I want to say… duh?). This soup is an absolute trail win. It rehydrates to a smooth, creamy consistency, and almost tastes better rehydrated that it does when it’s first made. Add in a little olive oil at camp and this becomes one of the best things to eat after hours of hiking. Or after waking up. Or literally any time ever because soup.
These two soups will absolutely be coming with me on the PCT, but they will not be the only ones! Other soups that I will be experimenting with soon are a sweet corn soup, minestrone, an asparagus pea soup, and many more!
Stay tuned for more of my delicious pasta, dessert, snack, and other food experiments! I promise (to the particular delight of my husband) there will be many more!
Happy Hiking (and eating!)
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