that uses items most people will have in disaster preps. It also freezes well, and a big pot costs only a few dollars to make.

The ingredients are:

  • One pound dried legumes
  • One sixteen ounce can of crushed plain tomatoes. Don't use the kind that are seasoned with Italian spices unless that's all you've got.
  • One small can of cooked mild chilis or some cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic
  • A meat

Pinto beans are probably the most inexpensive legume, but any dried bean will work. Lentils cook the fastest and are a significant part of my disaster preps because of this. If you're using bulk beans and don't have a scale, the volume will vary depending on type of beans, but it's about two to three cups. This is not an exact science, and you don't have to be precise. (My usual method of measuring the beans is "a few handfuls scooped out of the bucket of beans on my shelf until it looks about right.")

You can add some whole canned tomatoes along with the crushed tomatoes if you like whole tomatoes. This adds a certain variety to the dish.

For the chilis, my preference is canned Hatch chilis, which are fairly mild. If you're using jalapenos, watch the heat -- you may only want to use half a can. (And freeze the remainder if you've got power; canned chilis do not keep very long even refrigerated.) You can also use cayenne pepper or, in a pinch, some salsa to taste. If you don't like hot food, skip the chilis.

My personal preference for a meat is a pound of skinned and diced salt pork. If you don't have salt pork (and let's face it, this is something of a regional item) you can also use bacon, hamburger, chopped beef, pork cubes, spam, hot dog pieces, etc. No meat at all is also a possibility.

To prepare it, cook the legumes in a gallon of water at a simmer until they are tender. If you're using pinto beans that have sat in storage for ten years, plan on boiling them for a couple of days. Lentils, by contrast, take about an hour or two depending on the age of the lentils and your altitude.

Once your beans are soft, add the other ingredients and simmer until the meat is done.

Serve over corn bread or with tortillas -- I'll post some basic corn bread and tortilla recipes in the near future. If you're planning on serving with tortillas, cook the beans down until there's very little liquid, but be careful not to burn them.

Obligatory food safety warning: If you do not have power be aware that beans grow bad bugs very easily. If you can't consume this recipe within a few hours -- and it makes about a gallon of soup -- and you do not have a way to keep it cold, and cold means less than 40 degrees, either keep it at a low simmer until the next meal (i.e., on top of a woodburning stove or, carefully watched, on a back burner of a stove, or in a solar oven), give it to a hungry neighbor, or make less soup. Do NOT leave it sitting out on a counter at room temperature! You do not want to go to the emergency room with food poisoning when the ER is full of flu patients!