Building the fire

 

A good, long-lasting fire is the key to this recipe. Most people will know how to build a fire and most will know how to keep one stoked and lit, but I'm going to go into a little detail here anyway, to help you create the perfect campfire soup.

The first step is to lay down a good base for the fire using a layer of charcoal. Unless you want to spend all day burning down chunks of wood to create your own embers this is the easiest way to make a nice, hot fire. Ideally to this you'll want to add some twigs, as well as pinecones and pine needles to help it light. Pine burns really well and creates a lot of smoke, which is great for giving food a smokey flavour, less so for sitting around the fire and socialising. If pinecones aren't available, just use some small twigs and pieces of cardboard or paper. Using bigger pieces of wood like logs will also make it more difficult to sit your pan on top, so think about keeping it level when adding wood to the flames. Once lit, the fire should be ready to cook on after around 20 minutes.

Open flames will obviously kick out a higher heat, which is better for frying and bringing to the boil, whereas embers will produce a lower heat, better for simmering food on. There's quite an art to campfire cooking- it's not as simple as lighting a fire and sticking a pan on it.

My secret weapon for getting charcoal to light is firefighting fluid, which you should douse the charcoal with and leave for around 5 minutes to soak in prior to lighting. The wood on top will help the charcoal underneath light.

 

Makes 6 portions

Prep time: 1/2 hour

Cooking time: ~3 hours

  

Ingredients

These ingredients are a rough guide- feel free to chuck in whatever veg you've got to hand.

½ Squash

4 Large potatoes

2 Leeks

2 Onions

Assorted other vegetables

4 vegetable stock cubes

4 bay leaves

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp chilli powder

Oil

Salt & pepper 

This recipe for campfire soup is a weekend favourite of ours, perfect for when you've got some leftover veg that needs using, the weather's nice and you can cook outdoors and save on gas. It's cheap to make, 100% vegan and has a delicious smokey flavour you'll never have imagined could taste so good in a soup.

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What's in tonight's recipe? Squash, potatoes, tomatoes and radishes from a roadside seller.

Stacking driftwood ready to light. We use a collapsible BBQ to avoid leaving fire pits behind.

Recipe

 

The beauty of campfire soup is that it's cheap to make, healthy, filling, and you can use pretty much any old veg you like. Once you've got your base vegetables, you can use up any leftover ingredients you have lying around- courgettes, peppers, radishes... It all adds to the flavour.

Roughly chop your squash into small pieces, as these will cook quicker. Roughly chop the potatoes, leeks and onion, and any other veg you want to add. Add it all to a big wok or saucepan, something with flame-proof handles. If it has a glass lid, substitute this for tin foil as glass will crack under intense heat.

Add liberal amounts of oil and place the pan on the fire, then fry the vegetables until slightly softened, keeping it covered but stirring regularly. Ideally you'll want to keep the fire stoked with wood at this point, to keep the flames on the pan at a high heat. Just be careful of burning the vegetables on the bottom, although a bit of char adds to the flavour.

Once softened, add enough water to barely cover the veg, plus the stock cubes, spices and bay leaves, and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Leave to simmer on hot embers for at least an hour, covered, stirring occasionally. Once all the vegetables are soft, mash them down with a potato masher until you achieve the desired consistency, or if you happen to have one then use a food blender.

Serve in a mug or bowl, with warm crusty bread and curls of butter.

Ingredients chopped and fire ready to light, just before sunset.

So that's it, the simplest, most delicious and adaptable campfire soup recipe you'll ever try. It's a perfect meal to cook with friends as you can share a beer around the fire at the same time, or sit back and watch the stars.

What is your favourite campfire cooking recipe? Share in the comments below!