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August 2012 Issue
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(Not quite) instant pumpkin soup

You’ll meet a tremendous spread of people in the backcountry, from staunch mountaineers, to tree-hugging hippies and even the occasional cotton-wearing Darwin-dodger. But despite this diversity one thing unites them all – a love for instant soup.

It’s not surprising really, when you get to a campsite or a hut preparing something that’s fast, warm and that tops up the salts lost though the day is true bliss. But that bliss wears off pretty quick if you read the back of the packet. If terms like “flavour enhancers 621 and 635, caramel IV colouring, hydrolysed soy protein” don’t put you off, then the fact they’re typically made by some of the world’s largest multinational corporations certainly will.

However, it’s possible to have your soup and avoid the sipper’s remorse – just make it yourself.

Serves:  A side dish for two
Weight:  250g
Volume: 0.25L
Calories: 250
Cost: $2.25
Cooking time: 10min in the field (plus 45min prep at home)
Fuel: *90ml white spirit or 30g camping gas
*Based on an MSR Whisperlite burning white spirit at sea level.

1/4 medium size butternut pumpkin*
50g coconut cream powder
1 tsp red Thai curry paste*
Salt and Pepper.
*It’s much more efficient to use a whole pumpkin and make four trips’ worth in one sitting, but for simplicity’s sake I’ve just written this up as a single trip recipe.

At home

Take the butternut pumpkin slice into chunks and brush with a little olive oil. Roast at 200°C for approximately 30min (stab with a fork to test if they’re soft inside). Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel the skin off and blend. Add a little water if necessary to get a smooth paste. Add in the red Thai curry paste, a little salt and pepper and stir well.

Spread this paste out on baking paper and return to the oven at 100°C. Use a ‘fan-forced’ setting if it’s available (or even better, use a dehydrator). Remove once it’s completely dry, break into chunks and store in the freezer until you’re ready to head into the hills.

In the field

Bring two cups of water to the boil and add the dried pumpkin. Once it’s dissolved stir in the 50g of coconut cream. Bring the whole lot up to a simmer for a minute, add a bit more salt if you’re craving it and serve.