Similar to making fruit and vegetable leather, the soup becomes a quick precooked meal that just needs hot water to bring it back to life. Unlike leather, soup is first cooked on the stove and dried until it is crisp. The vegetables must be cooked for this to be an instant meal. Otherwise, vegetables that were only blanched during processing will still be in their partially uncooked form. This technique works best with a thick soup recipe, like split pea, carrot, or winter squash, because they will stay on the trays instead of running off. Soup with a broth base is not a good choice.
IS IT WORTH IT?
That depends on the kind of meals you want to prepare. I tend to be the sort of cook that takes several dry ingredients from the pantry, drops them into a pot of bouillon, broth, or water, and makes a tasty meal from the things we have on hand. This method assumes that you have the time to cook from scratch at home. If you find that you need a homemade soup meal for busy days, traveling, or backpacking trips, a make-ahead soup might be just the thing. With one day of hard work and a bit of preplanning, you can make a large batch of healthy soup that is easily prepared, dried, and stored for when you need it. Store single serving portions in jars in a dark, cool pantry for up to six months.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- This technique should only be used for soup without meat or dairy, and that has very little fat. Such ingredients will shorten the shelf life of the dry soup. Do not choose a recipe that uses milk as the base unless you are willing to cook with water and add powdered milk when packaging.
- Thoroughly cook the ingredients of the soup on the stovetop to the desired thickness. Remember, the boiling water used during serving will not cook the food, only rehydrate it, so everything must be thoroughly cooked.
- Consider using an immersion blender to get the vegetables into smaller, uniform pieces before drying.
- Typically, one dehydrator tray of soup equals one serving. For quick drying, spread one or two ladles of soup on Paraflexx or plastic tray covers no more than ¼ inch thick.
- Dry on dehydrator trays for four to eight hours until the soup is brittle. You may need to peel the soup off the tray and flip it halfway through the drying cycle.
- Run one tray of dry soup through a blender until it reaches a powder consistency and measures it. This will help you know how much is required for one serving.
- Determine the amount of boiling water needed to reconstitute one tray (one serving) of soup to the thickness you like. Typically, 1 to 1½ cups of water will do.
- Package the soup in canning jars in single serving portions. Make sure there is enough space left in the jars to add the boiling water. These jars can handle the heat and will not break or melt.
- Make a recipe card with the name of the soup and the directions to use when serving. Place it inside of each jar, listing the amount of water needed and any other ingredients that will complete the recipe.