Jerky Soup with Sunchokes, Okra, and Squash

So, you're a lover of jerky. You think it's the ideal snack. But have you ever thought about using it in cooking, particularly a soup? I'm not the biggest fan of jerky myself. I'd prefer to tuck into a thick bloody steak. But I'll admit that homemade jerky can be a nice nibble.

Of course, keeping meat as jerky is a very traditional way of preserving it, convenient and portable. But when I think of how it must have been used historically, particularly by people who had to secure shelter or build a fire at night, I imagine it was much preferable to reconstitute jerky in soup, than to gnaw on a tough old piece of meat. And this mirrors the stories told to me by my friend about her first nations ancestors, who often turned jerky into a warming bowl of soup. She told me that the traditional way in her family was to pound the dried meat, saute it, and then cook it up very simply in a broth with potatoes.

I had intended to cook up my first batch of jerky soup that way, simply. But as is usually the case, my urge to monkey with recipes got the better of me. You don't need to use the specific ingredients that I did, just use the basic template and add whatever veg you have on hand. Make it with good old fashioned potatoes, carrots, and peas, if that's what your family enjoys. However, if you have this particular combination of vegetables, I highly recommend following this recipe, because it tastes spectacular. The sunchokes (a tuber native to North America) have a smokiness that makes them a perfect pairing with the jerky.

Begin by cutting jerky into small pieces (I used scissors). Saute the jerky, along with a diced onion, in lard. Once the onions have softened, add bone broth and bite-sized pieces of sunchoke. Cover the soup, and cook over low heat until the meat is sufficiently tender, this may take over an hour. Keep in mind the jerky will never become as tender as fresh meat, it will retain a bit of chewiness.

To finish the soup, add a few mashed cloves of roasted garlic, roasted sliced okra, and cubes of roasted butternut squash (these were all leftover from a previous meal), and s&p to taste. Warm through, and serve with corn pones.
This soup makes a great trail dinner if you are hunting or camping, just cook up jerky with dried veggies of your choice, and enjoy around a campfire.

I'm submitting this recipe to Pennywise Platter Thursday and Fight Back Friday. Please click over and enjoy some of the other recipes.


  1. That looks so hearty. Perfect fall food!

  2. I love this, especially the historical significance and usefulness of it. Thanks for the great idea!

  3. Interesting, the soup and the background. Thanks so much.

  4. I just love reading the things you come up with. Do you make all your own jerky? Jam and I are talking about doing that sometime soon...

  5. I had to google what a sunchoke is - that makes this even more interesting sounding to me. My kids love deer jerky - me, not so much but I bet I would love your soup!

  6. Rebecca - You should definitely try making your own jerky. You can spice it just the way you please, make sure all the slices are perfect, and rest assured that there's no funny stuff additives in your jerky.

    Christy - I have to admit that I'm complete obsessed with sunchokes at the moment. I spent several hours today riding my bike around and digging up flowers in pursuit of them. They've got an amazing flavor that's hard to describe. It's starchy like a tuber, but it has a mineraly smokey water chestnut flavor. I want to grow them next year.

  7. Okay. I admit I'm a jerky lover. But yes, I've always just eaten it the chewy way....why did I not use my "sense" and realize that my own ancestors probably reconstituted it!? I have added this to my list of things to "do" over the colder months sometime. It sounds brilliant!

  8. This is such an intriguing way to use jerky but is almost like reconstituting any dried fruit or pepper. I'm sure it adds a great smoky salty flavor to the soup!

  9. That sounds like an awesome soup! Highly unique! :-)


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