How to make the Best Winter Hiking Food: 5 Soups for your Thermos

Last Updated on April 20, 2023

Winter hiking food is the BEST! No need for refrigeration or worries about chocolate melting! It’s AMAZING to bring hot food along with you in a thermos. My strategy is to make the soup for dinner or lunch earlier in the week and then save enough leftovers for my weekend adventure. Then all I have to do is heat it up in the morning and I’m ready to head out. If you really want to up your trail food game, make a hot breakfast to bring with you too. YUM.

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There are many amazing containers to keep food hot on the trail (or at the office, or for a winter picnic), but this thermos is my absolute favorite. Here’s why:

  1. It’s just the right size, at 16 ounces (big enough to keep itself warm, small enough that I can reach with the spoon all the way to the bottom). This is also the same size as the mason jars I use for leftovers, so the amount of food comes out just right.
  2. It comes with a folding spoon in the lid! Unless you’re the kind of super put together person who would never forget a spoon, this is super helpful!
  3. The top is wide and easy to fill and eat out of (especially easy to fill if you use a simple canning funnel)
  4. It has a track record of keeping my food hot till I’m ready to eat it even on cold days of snowshoeing or cross country skiing
  5. It’s affordable!

I’ve learned some tips to help keep hot food as hot as possible for as long as possible, and it makes a big difference! The three most important things are:

  1. Fill the jar partway with boiling (or hot) water while you’re heating up your food, this prewarms the inside of the container so heat is not lost heating up the sides once you add the food. This is really important!
  2. Make sure the container is full of the food (see above about the value of having a 16 ounce container)
  3. Use a blended soup, or partially blended soup so that there isn’t too much air trapped in it. This isn’t a deal breaker, I’ve put chunky soups and even casseroles in mine and it still stays quite warm for several hours, but the difference is noticeable!

Now that you know what type of container to use, and how to set yourself up for success in keeping your winter hiking food warm, here are 5 awesome recipes for my favorite soups to eat on the trail. Two are mine, and three are from other wonderful food people around the web!

All of these soups are vegetarian and/or vegan (in one case with a minor adaption which I discuss below, as well as how to integrate meat if you like!) and all are partially or completely blended (you can blend or not to fit your heart’s desire).

A blended or partially blended soup makes a big difference for how easy it is to eat on the trail (for example if you have a different food jar and forgot your spoon, you could just drink it!). It also helps it stay hot longer (though like I said, a non blended soup will still stay quite hot for plenty of time so that part isn’t critical).

Here we go….the BEST winter hiking food soups for a day on the trail! Enjoy and get ready to up your trail food game and be the envy of everyone you get outside with:

  1. Spicy Vegetarian Chili: This is a recipe I built after a couple years of experimenting. It’s hearty and filling and who doesn’t feel warm and energized eating chili?? I like to blend it a bit but still leave some chunks in it. This recipe is vegan and dairy free if made without the yogurt and cheese garnish. If you wanted to make it with meat, go for it! You could add ground beef or shredded chicken. I would suggest adding meat AFTER blending! You can make it less spicy by leaving out the jalapeno, or MORE spicy by adding more jalapeno! It’s your chili world!
  2. Corn Chowder: Vegan and Dairy free! I like to do a few seconds of blending with the stick blender even though it’s not in the directions (you do you!). Meat lover? You could fry up some bacon and add that (I’ve done it, it’s good).
  3. Sweet Potato Peanut Soup from Pinch of Yum: Vegan and Dairy free again! This amazing recipe has been a staple of my trail lunches this year and if you make it you’ll see why. I’m allergic to coconut so I used cashew milk instead and it turned out great. You know me, I like to blend, so I did a bit of blending at the end and loved it (and made it easier to eat out of the thermos). I love this recipe as is, but I have also added chicken to it after the blending and that’s also super tasty.
  4. Healthy 20 minute Tomato Bisque from Fit Foodie Finds: To make this vegetarian, you’ll have to make a minor adaptation (vegetarian broth instead of chicken) which is how I make it and it’s terrific. In fact, this is my favorite tomato soup ever, and you can DRINK it! This soup has significantly less calories than the others, so I recommend having lots of crackers and cheese along with it, which is kind of like have grilled cheese and tomato soup, right? (yes!)
  5. HONORABLE MENTION: I have to mention my amazing chicken noodle soup. The only reason it’s not in the top five is that I’ve now realized that a blended or partly blended soup really is easier to eat out of a thermos when you’re on the trail. But, it’s still a favorite trail food as long as I remember a napkin and perhaps a fork.
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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years and I still spend lots of time there every year. I've been a tour guide for many years in both Alaska and Washington and am a field editor for the Milepost. I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!