The Long-Lasting, Never-Go-Bad ‘Survival Soup’ The Pioneers Ate
The Long-Lasting, Never-Go-Bad ‘Survival Soup’ The Pioneers Ate by: Steve Nubie – Off the Grid News
There’s a pioneer cooking tradition in the United States that stretched from cook camps on cattle drives to lumber camps. It’s “perpetual soup,” known in some regions as the Skillagalee kettle.
Back in 1910, Horace Kephart wrote an iconic book titled: The Book of Camping and Woodcraft: A Guidebook for Those who Travel in the Wilderness. He covered just about everything related to living and surviving in the wilderness back then, and had this to say about this type of food: “Into it go all the clean ends of game — heads, tails, wings, feet, giblets, large bones — also the leftovers of fish, flesh, and fowl, of any and all sorts of vegetables, rice or other cereals, macaroni, stale bread, everything edible except fat.”
The post, he said, is “always kept hot” and its “flavors are forever changing, but ever welcome.”
“It is always ready, day or night for the hungry, varlet who missed connections or who wants a bite between meals. No cook who values his peace of mind will fail to have skilly simmering at all hours.”
Let’s look at this food and its benefits
The constant simmering and perpetual heat under the pot is actually an old food-preservation technique. By keeping the broth at a steady temperature between 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, anyone helping themselves would not suffer the consequences of food contamination. You could almost think of it as the pioneer Crock-Pot which was especially handy in a time with no electricity.
And that’s something to think about. As Kephart noted in his book, you can add just about anything to the pot. Personally, I don’t think I’d toss fish bones in with the chicken and beef bones, but maybe someday I’ll try it. What’s important is that the combination of ingredients are a potent brew of macro and micronutrients.
How to Make it in Your Kitchen
But you don’t have to hang out the cast-iron cookware over the open fire just yet. You can easily make perpetual soup in a Crock-Pot with some traditional recipes and just keep it on a setting that maintains a high-simmer. I’ve often done this on week-long fishing and hunting trips when I found myself sharing a cabin with five or six guys who always seemed to be hungry. I was the cook on all of these trips and appreciated Kephart’s recollection of a recipe for my own sanity when some of the guys came in from the cold.