First off, you’re probably wondering what in the world portable soup is. It’s essentially a broth that has been dried and solidified for easier storage, preservation and portability. It has a ton of flavor packed into a very small package. It has been called by many names, including pocket soup or veal glue. It’s kind of like a homemade, old-fashioned version of the bouillon cubes you can buy in the supermarket today.
What Is Portable Soup Used For?
Portable soup has a long history, with the first recipes for it being found in the 17th century.
It was quite popular in the 18th century due to the fact that it didn’t require any preservation and it was light and easy to pack. It was used as a portable food source for traveling, even on large and famous expeditions. Lewis and Clark packed portable soup in their food stores on their famous expedition to chart the U.S. It was also used as a food for invalids or others who had to be on a liquid diet, since at that time there were a lot less options for keeping those people nourished.
Because it had to be cooked over an open fire, a much less precise application of heat than we have available to us today, portable soup was not simple to make before the advent of electricity. This meant that it had to be constantly watched, to keep the heat steady and prevent burning or scorching. Today, a slow cooker means that the temperature of the broth can be easily controlled.
How Do You Make It?
If you’d like to make some portable soup of your own, here’s how you can do it with a more modern twist. Note that you could replace the beef shank roast with another high-collagen cut of meat like the neck, or you could even opt to make chicken portable soup by using a whole chicken.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to cook this recipe up in your kitchen.
- 5 lb. beef shank roast
- Medium slow cooker
- Large bowl for short-term storage of broth
- Cooling rack
- Small electric fan
Portable Soup Directions
- Make a bone broth – Place the roast in slow cooker and fill the slow cooker with water. Turn it on low and cook for eight to ten hours with the lid on. Mostly, you’ll want to leave it alone to cook, but make sure that the meat stays covered with water. Add more if the water level starts to get low.
- Remove the solids – Pull the meat and bone out of the slow cooker and set aside. The bone should probably be trashed, but the meat can be used in another dish.
- Let the cooker cool – Let the slow cooker cool completely. This will allow the fat to set on top of the top of the broth for easy removal.
- Strain the broth – Pour the cooled broth from the slow cooker through a piece of fine grade cheesecloth into another container. A large bowl will do nicely.
- Clean the slow cooker – Give the slow cooker a good wash to make sure none of the fat and solids you’ve, up until now, worked so hard to get rid of, don’t make it into the final broth. Those things could make the portable soup susceptible to going bad.
- Reduce broth – Pour the broth back into the slow cooker and turn it on low for 24-72 hours with the broth uncovered. This will reduce the liquid from the broth, until there’s about ½ inch left in the bottom of the slow cooker.When it’s finished, it should look like a lot like prepared gelatin. Towards the end of this time period, be sure you keep a close eye on your portable soup to prevent burning. Burnt portable soup is disgusting enough to not be edible, apparently.
- Let cooker cool again – Once again, let the cooker cool completely.
- Dry gelatinous soup – Peel the gelatinous reduced broth out of the bottom of the cooled slow cooker. Place it on an ordinary kitchen cooling rack and place an electric fan in front of the jellied broth on high. Leave it until it’s completely dried out. This should take a few days, but could take up to a week depending on the moisture level in your home. You’ll want to carry out the drying in a place that will be relatively undisturbed where dust and debris are unlikely to land on the broth. It would be tempting to toss this gelatin-like blob into the oven to dry it out, but that will absolutely burn it. Many dehydrators are even out of the question since they utilize low heat to remove the moisture from food. If you don’t desire to use a fan, you can place the reduced broth on a clean, tightly woven cloth and turn it several times a day for a week or so until it’s completely dry.
- Break into pieces – You’ll want to cut the portable soup into chunks that measure about one square inch. Regular (clean) scissors work great for this.
Store it by wrapping it in parchment paper or cheesecloth, placing it an airtight container, or keeping it in the fridge in a plastic bag. It can keep for up six months under favorable conditions.
What Do You Do with Portable Soup?
It’s important to note that this is a very basic portable soup recipe and it will act more like a soup base than a meal in and of itself. You’ll likely want to add herbs, spices, greens, vegetables, or at the absolute very least, a little salt to make it palatable.
In an emergency where you needed an energy boost post haste, you could just place a small piece of portable soup in your mouth and allow it to melt, but that would be pretty gross. Instead, boil a piece of the soup in water with whatever other soup ingredients are handy until it’s fully dissolved.
The Final Word on Portable Soup for Survival
You might consider whipping up a couple batches of portable soup to add to your survival stores. In a SHTF situation, this could provide you with nourishment that is compact and lightweight, which would make it perfect for bolstering your stores without taking up much room or for adding to your bug out bag.
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