Portable Soup?

David Trammel's picture

Something from the past

"Easiest Way to Make Portable Soup"

Reminds me of fruit leather.

Also on Instructable: "Portable/Pocket Soup"

"Louis and Clark reportedly took over 100 lbs of the stuff on their expedition across America. It was reported to have saved them from starvation on multiple occasions. It was also reportedly carried on Captain Cook‘s trip to Australia because it was antiscorbutic (preventing scurvy). Virginia planter William Byrd II said it was “a wholesome kind of Food, of very small Weight and very great Nourishment, that will secure them from Starving, in case they should be so unlucky as to meet with no Game.” One particularly awesome thing about this is that it lasts SOOOO long, it will probably outlast you.

"A cake of portable soup, thought to have originally come from Captain Cook’s supplies, survives in Britain’s National Maritime Museum in Greenwich—a flat rectangular cake stamped with a broad arrow [THE IMAGE IN THIS SECTION], looking much like a “slab of glue.” It was tested in the 1930s by food scientist Sir Jack Drummond, who pronounced it “changed very little.”"

I think I have to try this. I know about demi-glace and Shannon Hayes has a great recipe for it in her book Long Way on a Little, however Hayes doesn't mention drying the demi-glace. Also, I wonder why the guy in the video didn't had vegetables to his beef shanks to make a really tasty portable soup, not period perhaps?

mountainmoma's picture

dont add vegetables unless you know it is safe. The recipe is pulling out geletin. But, maybe if you add vegetables you add the potential for butulism ? I dont know, but would play it safe

ClareBroommaker's picture

I'm thinking there may be a reason this concentrated protein conserve has not commonly passed down to the present day, though it does have a familiarity to it.
Adding a few more nutrients might enable us to nourish all sorts of things.

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David Trammel's picture

Clare is that petri dish still wet? Perhaps that is the reason for the mold. You'd want to treat this like any food dried and make sure it was stored in a safe manner, like in air tight jars. Though they did say they had museum samples that were very old and it was still safe to eat in the article.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Nah, that is not an attempt to make portable soup. It is a petri dish with various microbes growing on it, as from an open air sampling. I just meant to say that this portable soup idea sounds a bit too much like nutrient media for growing out microbes. ;-)

Thanks for your concern. Remember that you are boiling this concoction for a day at least and you can add a little bit of vinegar to pull minerals out as well, so I don't think botulism is a likely problem. I can see the mold that Claire mentions to be more of a problem, but I think that can be addressed by drying promptly with lots of air movement. Also, since this process was used without poisoning people for a long time before caning or modern germ theory were known, I think it is reasonably safe.

kma's picture

I have quite a beef bones kicking around and am slow to use broth, this could work.

lathechuck's picture

I used to buy the little foil-wrapped "bouillon cubes", until I stopped to examine the ingredient labels on the store brand vs. the name brand. Both of them looked like stuff I didn't want to eat! (Salt + MSG + a few traces of herbs and spices, IIRC.) A related product "Better Than Bouillon" is a thick paste that I've had good results with.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

I too can endorse the "Better Than Bouillon" product. It is fairly pricey but good stuff and gets the STM seal of approval. I use it as the base for the borscht that I make in large quantity every year.

kma's picture

With the 7yo underfoot wanting to do Xmas stuff I realize I definitely don't have the brainspace to think about mold and botulism right now (thanks for the heads up)! BUT I still have a gigantic pile of beef bones from our beef supplier so I'm going to get it to the gelatin phase and freeze it. My problem is volume. I have too many bones, we can't eat enough soup to consume the bones and I can't store that much broth...some but not nearly enough. I know I could can but also don't have the time for that any time soon. So this method gives me a solution for volume for now. Will report back...

Sometimes I get stuck on projects when I want them to be *perfectly* sustainable instead of doing the best with the resources I have in front of me (including time). So freezing for now, figuring out drying part in 3-5 years. :)

We have started our first batch without veggies.

ClareBroommaker's picture

That sounds like a good way to handle it. I, too, have little freezer space, so like to maximize its use. Concentrating your broth would take up far less space, of course. So dehydrated to pucks would make great use of the space.

It's hard for me to imagine having so much broth that I would ever do this or can it either. We make soup, stew, gravy, or richly seasoned greens right away when we have drippings, a meaty bone, poultry carcass, or a pan of cooked out broth. We eat soup almost every day, especially in the chilly months, Saving for later just means the next day.

kma's picture

My first batch is reducing in the crock pot. I got a 50% reduction overnight so it should be finishing up this afternoon.

Ah! I have picky eaters. The little one is in a cheese and banana phase. I can eat soup everyday as well but volume again, it takes us a week to get through a pot of soup. Mr. KMA will eat egg drop soup which I need to improve at. My fist batch last winter was perfect. Forgot to make it for a year and then a week or so ago I made what turned out to be weird scrambled eggs in broth.

I also have 20lbs of beef bones from the farmer so I have a big supply before we start eating things and saving the bones which multiples it. Perhaps I also have a hoarding problem! :) I never throw out a bone without first putting it in the freezer for 'later'. So one or two rotisseries chickens from the store and I'm out of freezer space again!

I can sympathize with the hoarding problem as it is one of my failings. At the moment, I have a boat load of bones that need to be made into stock and I just haven't done it. I hope I can get to it after this experiment.

David Trammel's picture

I wonder how this tastes when you add different spices or ingredients? As a soup base, or as a substitute for jerky and eaten as a snack, could you make up a spicy batch or would that encourage mold or bacteria?

kma's picture

My first experiment ended in failure.

I used chicken. The reduced broth did not get gelatinous. I probably should have broken the bones but I've made a fair amount of stock that ended up gelatinous that I didn't bother to manage the process. Also it tasted bad in concentrated form. I probably could have added more salt but I didn't know if the off taste was a result of the concentration or long cooking time gone awry.

Need to try again using beef bones this time. Will also try again with chicken being sure to crack the bones.


You could consider using some chicken feet in your chicken broth to help with the gel.

My beef broth is now on it's slow cook down cycle. We haven't moved too fast as the weather has been cold and we could set the pan in the garage to cool for fat removal and a test of the gel. It setup nicely, but we didn't get all the fat on the first pass, so this morning when I started cooking the broth down some more I lifted out the few more patches of fat that remained. I tasted the gel this morning and it is very beefy.

We have successfully dehydrated our first batch of portable soup. It took three days and we are giving it a forth day of drying to be sure under the breeze of a fan to produce portable soup. It was rather difficult to get the gel cut into similar sized pieces and transferred to the drying trays, so a lot of our pieces are very mismatched in size. However, we re-hydrated some of the smallest pieces in about a 1/2 cup of hot water and it produce a not too bad beef broth. Added salt made it even better. The "soup" really wants for some other flavors, veggies and herbs and such, to really make soup, but for back pack food or emergency stores, not too bad.

I think in reviewing our process, we probably didn't cook it long enough to really get a stiff gel before we strained the soup and started cooking it down. I think this is why it was still quite a soft gel even though it setup readily. We talked about remelting it and add unflavored gelatin, but decided against it in favor of saving time in the face of the holidays. We plan to try this again with chicken and maybe pork and we will probably buy some chicken feet to add to our hoard of chicken parts to see if we can get a stiffer gel. It would make handling the gel easier at the end.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I appreciate the update, Kay.

I'm pretty sure I've used my garden pruners in the kitchen a time or two. One can really deliver some cutting power with them....This really gives new meaning to "condensed soup," doesn't it?

In the video I watched, he cut the dried soup up with a pair of scissors and his gel looked quite a bit stiffer before he dehydrated the soup then the one we produced.

lathechuck's picture

After you've cooked the broth out of them, is there a practical way to break them down so the calcium and phosphorus can be used in the garden?

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Turn them under. In time nature will take care of the task.