My favorite way of using dehydrated vegetables is to add them to various soups. If I am using dehydrated vegetables, I always add them at the start of the soup making process so that they have a chance to reconstitute. I always make my soups with lots of savory broth.
Split Pea Soup
For example, I like to add dried carrot slices to split pea soup, along with onion, garlic and a stick of celery or a couple leaves of lovage. I also put ham or bacon in split pea soup. Until the dried peas are thoroughly cooked, I only add the dried carrots. One doesn’t need many to accent the flavor of the peas. Restraint is called for.
Another important thing to remember is never add salt or acid-type ingredients, such as tomatoes, to dried legumes before they are completely tender, as these ingredients will toughen the skins of the legumes so that they never become tender. After the peas are completely cooked, then I add the onion, garlic and ham or bacon. I like to cook much of the fat out of the bacon before adding to the soup. Let it all simmer for at least an hour or two, so that the flavors blend nicely.
A soup may have any combination of the following dried vegetables:
Bear in mind that what you will choose will depend on your own personal taste. You can use fresh, frozen or canned vegetables in combination with whatever you have dried.
Important Note: It takes about five pounds fresh fruits and vegetables, at least, to make one pound of dried food. Bear this in mind when adding your dried foods to dishes. You don’t want to inadvertently use up your stores needlessly
Vegetable Beef Soup
For a beef vegetable soup, I might combine onions, carrots, celery or lovage and green beans with potatoes and beef. I might throw in some tomatoes, depending on what I am in the mood for. I also use a bit of winter savory, which is like summer savory but stronger. It is a hardy perennial that I like to grow where I live. In Montana, people might add lean hamburger by making small meatballs (about 1- 2 inches in diameter) to the simmering broth before adding any of the fresh vegetables. In that case, it is called Hamburger Soup. I don’t overload the soup with any one of the vegetables used.
For a beef stew, I might add some mustard seed or dried mustard powder, celery, black pepper, onions, garlic, carrots and cabbage. I prefer to use a fresh cabbage that I quarter and lay over the top of the stew to steam. Of course I use lots of quartered potato chunks to make a hearty stew. Another thing I like to add is baguet, a parsley pesto-like condiment. The recipe for baguet is found here at the bottom of my blog post on preserving herbs for winter.
Chicos Corn Soup
Sometimes, I make a beef broth using an inexpensive cut of beef and spices, such as onion, garlic and bay leaf. When I start the soup, I add dried corn, along with the spices. Towards the end of the soup making process, after the meat is tender, I add a few cubed potatoes. I got the inspiration for this from a recipe for Chicos Corn Soup, a Southwestern-style soup made with dried sweet corn and beef or venison.
Zucchini / Chicken Soup
Dried zucchini chips are nice added to a chicken broth with green onion. The chips must be added just a few minutes before eating. Don’t use too many. You may add whatever other light vegetables you would like, such as a few frozen peas. The idea is for this to be like chicken egg drop soup—very light and nourishing.
Chiles / Dried Peppers
How one uses dried peppers depends, or course, on what kind of peppers one has on hand. My pantry and freezer always contain a variety of dried, canned and frozen peppers, as well as what I buy for fresh use.
I always keep New Mexico Chile Pods in my pantry. They are long, whole, dark red pods, and are inexpensive.
Southwestern Taos-Style Chili
A woman from Taos, New Mexico taught me to use New Mexico chile pods for a marvelous Southwestern-style chili. This chili is red, but it has no tomatoes. It is red from the ground chiles. It also does not use any hamburger or beef, but is flavored with bacon, ham or salt pork. Cooked over an open fire, and served with fry bread, it is even more superb. Make sure there is lots of spicy broth.
Soak overnight, then cook until just tender:
A soup pot of dried pinto beans.
*Do not add the chiles, meat or salt to the beans as the acid in the chiles and the salt in the meat will toughen up the beans so that they don’t become tender.
Make sure there is lots of water covering the beans. Take some of the broth, add a little cold water and pour into a blender. Add a couple of the New Mexico chile pods and blend until the chile pods are reduced to small bits and the water is red. Add this back to the beans.
Add a chopped onion, garlic to taste, along with salt. You may add chili powder to taste or 1-2 more New Mexico chile pods, depending on how spicy you like your beans. It takes a bit of practice to find your optimum spice level. I always add some chile powder and maybe some cayenne, but then, I like very spicy food.
Add the bacon or ham. Simmer the beans until the ingredients blend. I like to simmer them for about two hours.
Meat for burritos, enchiladas or rice:
Brown a lean pork roast in a skillet. Put the meat into a crock pot and sprinkle with salt, a little cumin (I don’t like too much cumin), oregano, green chiles (dried, fresh, frozen or canned). If you use dried green chile peppers, make sure they are well-crushed. I have used my Hungarian hot wax peppers, and also my banana peppers in combination with the hot wax peppers. Add a little cilantro and garlic.
One could also add dried tomatillos or dried green tomatoes. Make sure dried ingredients are well crushed using a mortar and pestle. One could also add green tomato or tomatillo salsa.
If you use mainly dried veggies, add a small amount of water (very small). If you use salsa and fresh or frozen peppers, they will be all the moisture you will need, along with a chopped onion.
Add salt to taste and cook in the crock pot on low all night. In the morning, your home will be filled with a delicious fragrance.
Brown an inexpensive cut of beef. Place it in a crock pot. Take a couple of the New Mexico chile pods and grind with a very small amount of water. Add onion, garlic and salt. You may also add chili powder and a little cayenne if you like. Cook overnight in the crock pot on low. It will be ready to serve in the morning, either in burritos or with rice, however you like. The meat may also be used to fill enchiladas.