Smoked Corn Chowder

Recipe inspired by the book “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

Waking up the next morning came slowly, like rising up through the water from the bottom of a deep. deep pool. Slowly, I remembered where I was and where I was going. I took a few minutes to just meditate on yesterday and the day I had ahead. Yesterday was thought of my mother’s cancer and utter pain. Today was going to be hiking up and through Crater Lake, some of the most beautiful sights in all of the country. Pain behind, and beauty ahead.

I started to break camp and realized all I had eaten was cookies yesterday evening in the haze of my grief. I conjured up a small campfire and smelled all the smokey fumes. The fire’s smoke combined with the fresh pine smell and the fresh breeze was a heady aroma and made me ravenous! After rummaging around in the Monster I found a small packet of dried Smoked Corn Chowder that I had picked up at the last stop. These dried soup mixes saved my soul several times. You can only have jerky and trail mix so many times before you instinctively crave a hot meal. The contents of the packet and water to my small metal pan and stuck it on the fire. I continued to break down the tent and pack Monster while it was cooking. In the end, I set down on a rock with my chowder, a map and pencil to carve the way ahead. After a bite or two, I sat down the map and focused on the soup for a moment. It was smokey and creamy, a hearty porridge made over a fire. It was a boon to the soul. Today was going to be beautiful.

Smoked Corn Chowder

Course Dinner, Lunch, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Wild
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 1 3.2 oz package of powdered milk
  • 3 dried chiles chopped into ¼-inch pieces (I used guajillo and ancho)
  • 1 tbsp smoked sea salt
  • ½ c coarse ground corn meal
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • ½ tbsp celery salt
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika


  1. Combine all ingredients in resealable plastic bag or vacuum sealed bag.

  2. Out on the trail, in a medium saucepan, add 1/2 cup of mix to 2 cups water.

  3. Simmer on medium-low heat or campfire for 30 minutes until creamy. Happy trails!

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