It’s warming up outside and you may not want to think about soup or stew for a few months. However, traditional gardeners and food preservationists know that thinking about what you’ll eat in the fall and winter dictates what you grow in the spring and summer. While you’re planting vegetables for salads and side dishes, plant enough to freeze dry your own soup kits for use later in the year. Here’s a list of vegetables that come in handy:

Tomatoes (Yes, technically a fruit)

  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Butternut squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Potato
  • Onion
  • Corn

Herbs like oregano, marjoram and basil come in handy as seasoning, so don’t hold back on your kitchen garden.

Here are some of our favorite recipes for soups and stews. You can freeze dry the ingredients separately or together. When you’re ready to make dinner this fall, just rehydrate, add a can of beans or leftover chicken, turkey or steak, then add a hot loaf of bread and you’ve got an excellent 10-minute dinner.

Hearty Vegetable Soup Kit

  • 4 cups of any combination of freeze dried zucchini, corn, carrots, beans or potato
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly sautéed in olive oil
  • 1 small onion, lightly sautéed in olive oil with garlic
  • 1 cup tomatoes
  • 1 cube vegetable, beef or chicken bullion
  • 1 cup rice, orzo or dried pasta
  • 1 cup dried beans of any kind
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. basil

Dice all vegetables. Freeze dry all ingredients together. To rehydrate, add 4 -6 cups of water to a stock pot and let simmer. Salt and pepper to taste.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup Kit

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cubes vegetable bullion
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ¼ cup shaved coconut

Dice all vegetables. Sautee onion and garlic lightly in olive oil. Combine all ingredients and freeze dry. When you’re ready to rehydrate, simmer all ingredients in 6 cups of hot water then puree in a food processor until smooth. Garnish with salted cashews.

Finally, here’s a recipe you can enjoy now – serve cold.

Cold Watermelon and Ginger Soup

  • 8 cups diced (1/2-inch pieces) watermelon (about 1 pound)
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger, divided
  • 8 leaves fresh mint, washed and dried
  • 3 cups crushed ice
  • 3/4 cup finely diced honeydew melon, chilled

Freeze the diced watermelon for about an hour. Combine sugar, water and ginger in a saucepan and simmer for 2 minutes. Purée the frozen watermelon in a blender then slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup. Add mint and combine until the soup is liquid. Top with diced honeydew melon.