It took long enough, but there are suddenly signs of winter here in the PNW. The crunch of leaves underfoot has been replaced with the crunch of ice melt. Flecks of bright orange are barely visible under a fresh dusting of snow. Folks are trading trucker hats for beanies and bike racks for ski racks. If freezing temperatures and snow-covered peaks weren’t enough, an extra hour of sleep under heavy blankets this weekend confirmed it: winter has arrived.
To most people, winter marks the time for snow shovels, studded tires, and infinity scarves. But to you, outdoor enthusiast, this transition means it’s full speed ahead to one of the best times of the year: ski season, snowmobile season, snowboarding season, skating season. Chilly nights and long days in the snow also mark the advent of the greatest “S” season of all: soup season!
There’s nothing like hot soup to bring warmth back to the body after a day on the slopes. Much like winter athletes, soups are incredibly diverse: they can be thick, thin, chunky, smooth, light, dark, vegetarian, spicy; but all types excel in the backcountry. Like your trusty thermal underwear (you know the pair), they don’t have to be complicated to get the job done. Soups can be enjoyed with a spoon or sipped straight from the bowl - we don’t judge. If your winter meals need souping up, try one of these simple recipes next time you venture into the snow.
On a backcountry ski or snowshoe trip, you want light and you want simple. Ramen noodles are easy to pack and almost as simple as it gets, but can also be as boring as it gets. Yet it doesn’t have to be: ramen is a culinary blank canvas, just waiting for you to create a masterpiece. Adding some protein, veggies, and spices breathes life into the old college staple. Break away from the ramen status quo with this Fancy Ramen recipe sure to please the taste buds:
1 instant ramen package
1 hard boiled egg
Handful of baby spinach or bok choy
Sriracha (in a condiment bottle)
Add water to cooking pot (a Pinnacle Soloist, perhaps) and bring to boil. Add ramen and cook according to package directions. While cooking, peel and slice hard boiled egg. When ramen is a minute or two away from being done, toss in baby spinach or bok choy to soften in the broth. Remove from heat and add half a flavor packet. Experiment with chili flakes, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and remaining spices in flavor packet to taste until you reach flavor perfection. Strain if desired and pour ramen into bowl. Top with egg slices, sesame seeds, and sriracha. Enjoy your fancy ramen with pinkie finger extended.
Some ingredients hold up better in a backpack than others (we’re looking at you, tomatoes). Luckily, wintery veggies like zucchini and potatoes have a thick skin, making them equally as transportable as they are delicious. This hearty zucchini soup is perfect for a night by the fire in a backcountry hut.
½ tbl. olive oil
½ small onion, chopped
2 chicken (or vegetable) bouillon cubes
2 cups water
1 medium zucchini
1 small potato, peeled and diced
In Spice Rocket:
⅛ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare vegetables first, with a knife and cutting board. In a pot (like the Bugaboo Backpacker 2L), heat olive oil to medium heat. Add onion and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle in garlic and curry powder, stir on medium heat for a minute until fragrant. Add water, bouillon cubes, potatoes, and zucchini and bring to a boil. Simmer covered with strainer lid for 20 minutes or until potatoes are done. Enjoy with warmed naan bread for ultimate soup experience.
Winter sports season brings with it grand adventures as well as some harsh weather conditions. At the end of a cold day or a break along the trail, there’s nothing better than wrapping numb fingers around a warm bowl or Backpacker Mug. No matter the winter adventure, a steamy cup, or Tiffin vacuum flask of soup tops off any day spent in the outdoors.