This easy dehydrator recipe features a 15 bean mix, seasoned with aromatic curry, cilantro and spicy chili flakes. It’s certain to fuel your adventure and keep you feeling cozy on a chilly night in camp. Bonus: it’s gluten-free and vegan!
This is one of the first recipes that I put together in my attempt to stock a healthy and delicious DIY hiker pantry. In a previous post, I talked about my need to leave pre-packaged processed foods behind, such as Knorr Rice and Pasta Sides (popular with thru-hiker because of their low price and easy cooking), and freeze-dried meals like Backpacker’s Pantry and Mountain House because of their high cost.
Not to blow my own horn or anything, but my Curry Bean Recipe turned out really great, and I’m so happy to share it with everyone here! Not only was it ridiculously cost-effective to make, it’s also incredibly hearty, filling and flavorful. It has everything a hiker needs: protein, fiber and carbohydrates to keep you going and feeling full.
I made a double batch, which gave me 24 packages of dehydrated soup mix at around 4 ounces each. These will expand to two times from their dehydrated state once water is added and then cooked, and you can make this soup as ‘brothy’ as you would like.
The entire batch cost me $10.58 to make, making each meal about 42 cents. That’s crazy cheap, even more so than what a Knorr Side costs at the supermarket. Plus, it doesn’t come with MSG and other weird mystery ingredients you can barely pronounce.
Prepping and Cooking
Here’s what I used to prepare the beans:
- 2 packages of Hurst’s HamBeens 15 Bean Soup, 20 ounces each (567 grams each)
- 2 cans tomato paste, 6 ounces each (170 grams each)
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, diced
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 sweet onions, diced
- 1/4 cup cumin
- salt and pepper
- 4 quarts water or reduced sodium broth
In addition to using a Crockpot for cooking the beans, here’s the other equipment I used for dehydrating and packaging my Curry Bean Soup.
I threw out the seasoning packet that came with my beans, because it contained MSG and ham flavor. I’m making this recipe vegan friendly, but you don’t have to (I’m not vegan). Also important to note is that I used absolutely no oil in any of this process, as it would make the dehydrating process very difficult and prone to spoiling.
I decided to soak the beans overnight in my Crockpot on the low setting, since it takes around 8 hours for the dry beans to re-hydrate again. Give the beans a good rinse under cold water, and sort through to remove any that look off.
After rinsing and sorting, put the beans in the Crockpot and cover with water. If your Crockpot is on the small side, you may have to do two separate batches; the beans will expand a lot! Add the tomato paste, diced peppers, onions, and carrot, finely chopped celery, minced garlic and cumin. Salt and pepper it, but don’t overdo it with the salt as you’ll be adding dry bouillon later on in the packaging process.
Give it all a stir and then let it do its thing for at least 8 hours on the low setting. If you’re not using a Crockpot, then you can do it on low in a Dutch oven or large pot on the stove top.
When the beans are fully cooked and tender, then you’ll need to drain off any excess liquid. Place the bean mixture into a colander and stir it several times. It doesn’t need to be dry by any means, just a bit on the thick side (don’t rinse them).
Dehydrating & Packaging
Here’s what you’ll need for the final preparations to create the dehydrated Curry Bean Soup:
- Yellow curry powder (I got mine at Costco)
- Vegetable or chicken bouillon granules (I like this vegan one from Amazon)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 cups fresh cilantro, stems and leaves, finely chopped (coriander)
- Dehydrated or instant rice (instructions here on how to dehydrate rice for backpacking)
Place the bean mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the lemon juice and chopped cilantro, stirring so that it’s distributed evenly. Now you’re going to spread out the bean mixture onto the dehydrator trays, into a thin layer that’s about 1/4 of an inch thick. Try to get it as evenly as possible, using a spatula for spreading if needed. I didn’t line my trays with parchment paper as this would delay the dehydrating process by quite some time. Instead, I just spread the mixture out on the mesh trays and put a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of my dehydrator to catch all the goodness that might fall through the trays.
Dehydrate the mixture at 130 degrees F (55 C) for approximately 14 hours, checking on it periodically to make sure that it is drying evenly. If you notice some moist clumps, simply break them apart.
Once everything is good and dry, you can start the process of packaging your soup for backpacking trips. This can be done in zip top bags, but I recommend using a vacuum sealer to really preserve all of your hard work. This will make the soup last longer and keep any moisture out. I’m using a FoodSaver Automatic Sealing System with their 8 inch plastic rolls. The rolls allow me to cut my bags to size and waste less plastic, as well as helping to keep my weight down.
This next part is what gets to be a bit tedious, as it feels like a production line and may take up a good chunk of your day. But just remember you’ll have a healthy supply of a tasty soup that’s lightweight for backpacking and shelf stable for quite some time. As I mentioned above, my packages weigh around 4 ounces and after I add about 2 cups of water to my soup mix, I have a pretty hearty meal in front of me. The beans will double in size, and the rice will triple. If you have a big appetite, you may want to make your recipe even larger by doubling it. This will give you around 8 ounces of dry soup mix and 12 packets total.
Instead of soup, this can also be just a good ol’ fashioned beans and rice dish too. If you go this route, you may want to cut back on the bouillon or it may turn out too salty.
Here’s what to add to each individual package:
- 1/2 cup dry bean mix
- 1/2 cup dehydrated rice
- 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
- 1 teaspoon bouillon granules
- dash or two of chili pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it (optional)
Once your package is full of mixture, seal it up, whether it’s with a vacuum sealer or in a zip top bag. Be sure to label it with a date, and store it in a cool, dry spot.
Cooking the Curry Bean Soup is fast and super easy! Simply place the dry mix into a cook pot with 1.5 to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. If you’re using a pot cozy, let it sit in the cozy for 5 minutes to soak. If you’re not using a pot cozy, simmer for a few minutes until the rice and beans are tender. If you don’t want it to have too much broth, reduce the amount of water you use.
For more protein: Add a pouch of cooked salmon or chicken breast, or dehydrated tofu to keep it vegan friendly.
For more fat: Add a tablespoon of olive oil, coconut oil or ghee
- 15 Bean Soup Mix
- Vegetable Bouillon Granules
- Yellow Curry Powder
- Salmon Pouches
- Chicken Breast Pouches
- FoodSaver 8 ” Roll
Thanks for stopping by and, as always, happy trails!
P.S. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or John Muir Trail this coming season? Check out my post on resupply packages!