Backpacking Recipes: Hot Pot Soup and Creamy Tapioca Pudding

Hot Pot Soup
Hot Pot Soup

Hot Pot Soup

Serves 1 as a main course, 2 as a first course:

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup polenta
  • 1/4 -1/2 chili pepper, seeds removed and finely shredded, to taste
  • 2 bullion cubes or 1 tablespoon powdered bullion
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt

At home: Package ingredients together in a zip-loc bag

In camp: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and stir in ingredients. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Variations: Add powdered Parmesan cheese, mix in well, and wait a few moments for it to melt fully.

Preparation notes:

Sun-dried tomatoes are a bit pricey, costing about $3.50 for 3 ounces and you’ll need close to that amount for this recipe. There are lots of different chili pepper to try – pick the one you like best and adjust the heat accordingly. You can also pack some red pepper flakes and spice the meal in camp depending on your heat preferences. Use vegetable or chicken bullion and not beef flavored bullion.

This meal generates a very large 1 person serving.

Taste and texture:

This backpacking meal has a soupy consistency if you use the full 3 cups/24 ounces of water, but it will thicken considerably if you wait an additional 10 minutes after removing it from heat. The taste is salty and mexican flavored, but the flavors don’t really blend very well together. But adding powdered Parmesan to this meal really makes it come alive and helps thicken the consistency. Add the Parmesan after you’ve cooked the meal, rather than adding it to the zip-loc bag of ingredients at home. Mix it in and give it a few minutes to melt completely before eating.

Rating: This meal is a winner.

Creamy Tapioca Pudding
Creamy Tapioca Pudding

Creamy Tapioca Pudding

serves 2

  •  2/3 cup low fat milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

At home: Combine ingredients in a Ziploc plastic bag.

In Camp: Place ingredients into a cook pot. Slowly stir in two cups of water, and let stand for 5 minutes. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Serve warm, or let stand to cool.

Preparation Notes:

Milk powder is extremely hydroscopic (absorbs moisture). Don’t pack up this meal and then keep it around for a long time. The powdered milk will turn into a rock that is difficult to dissolve in water. When adding the ingredients to the cook pot, be sure to add the water second, as it will make it easier to dissolve the ingredients. Adding the honey and vanilla should not be done at home but in camp. Otherwise, the milk powder clumps to it and you’ll need to break up with your fingers.

The authors don’t specify whether to use small or large pearl size tapioca. I used the small size.

Date powder is too dark for this recipe. Substitute with regular white granulated sugar to keep your pudding from turning brown.

As you heat up the water and bring it to a boil, you need to be very aggressive with your stirring to prevent the tapioca and elements of the milk from falling to the bottom and burning. To prevent burning, you’ll need a spatula with a flat edge that you can use to scrape the bottom of the pot. Stirring with a spoon is not good enough.

If you use a thin-bottomed backpacking cook pot, I’d recommend you get a heat  diffuser for this recipe to avoid burning the bottom of your pot. Also, make sure you simmer the tapioca/milk mixture using a very low flame, and that you let it sit for an additional 15-20 minutes after you take it off the stove to let it thicken more.

Taste and Texture:

This recipe was a disaster because the milk powder (even when rehydrated) burned on the bottom of the pot during cooking, making the finished product taste like burned marshmallows.  Given the difficulty of cleaning a cook pot that is burned inside on the bottom, I’d say this is a high risk backpacking dessert and should be avoided unless your cook pot has a very thick bottom AND you use a heat diffuser.

Rating: This meal is a loser.

Recipe Source

These two backpacking recipes come from the backpacking cookbook, Simple Foods for the Pack. This article is part of a series of backpacking recipes for one pot meals, published on


  1. Will try the soup this coming week. We’re having rain while I’m on the trail (…it is VT…) and I bet this will be good.

    • The soup is very good. I will probably bring it on a weekend trip I have coming up, unless I find something even better in this cookbook! More good food in the pipeline.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *