Trail RecipesBy Akira Suzuki
Celery and any other leftover vegetables
Takanotsume (dried red peppers)
When it’s cold outside, nothing is more welcome than something hot to warm you from the inside out. When you are on the trail, vegetable soup is a convenient and versatile meal. In summer it can be enjoyed cold and, when you don’t feel like solid food (such as when you have a nasty hangover), it’s something you can get down easily.
Even beer lovers would trade in an ice cold beer for something hot in winter but, for an evening refresher, try mixing vegetable juice half-and-half with a beer. It’s similar to that old “Red Eye,” the cocktail you get when mixing tomato juice with beer, but for me vegetable juice is an even tastier combination.
This simple recipe uses vegetable juice as the base for soup. The only other main ingredients are bacon and whatever leftover vegetables you might have on hand. It’s best to use smoked bacon, so it keeps better than fresh meat, and the aroma is nice (but it’s important to buy bacon at a good butcher shop; supermarket packaged bacon is only smoke-flavored, not smoked).
The bacon also adds fat, meaning more energy, which is especially important in winter and when you are out burning energy on the trail. Just standing outside in cold weather requires a substantial amount of energy to stay warm. Vegetable juice contains the essence of the vegetables, but it doesn’t have the hearty consistency and texture you get with real foods. It’s important when you’re outside to have food that makes you feel ready to get going again.
The nice thing with vegetable soup is that you don’t have to worry about cooking times or temperature levels or how much you can carry with you—all you have to do is heat it up. You just need enough consommé to add flavor, and then you’ve got a meal that will make your body feel good, but add of a little black and red pepper to give yourself an little extra kick.
Here’s another trail tip that’s good tor remember: you can put some takanotsume (also called togarashi) into the toes of your boots to keep your feet protected from the cold.
Finely chop the bacon, garlic, celery and any other vegetable, and stir-fry.
Add the vegetable juice and allow to simmer with other ingredients. Add consommé, black pepper, salt and takonotsume to taste.