Survival Food, Creature-Critter Soup


Guest post: by Christine Coburn


The SHTF 3 months ago and the grid has been down with no end in sight. You had 3 full months of canned food put up for your family which now you are down to items like vegetables, barley, flour, etc. All of the Vienna sausages, tuna and canned chili are long gone. Let’s say you have never hunted but you bought that 22 rifle “just in case”. With civilization down the wildlife (creatures) have been finding their way in closer to suburbia and you have noticed lately that there have been some rabbits and squirrels in your yard. Or maybe you live in a more rural area and the rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife have been there all along but you have just never shot any. After you get one what do you do with it? Wild rabbit or any other wild game can be very tough if it is not cooked properly.

Soup has long been a way to cook food for multiple people at a minimum of cost and difficulty. Soup is a very easy meal to prepare and you do not need frozen or box mixes from the stores to make it (Contrary to popular belief). The limit to the kinds of soup you make is only limited by your creativity and availability of food stuffs to put in the pot. You can make it with meat or without, with grain, pasta or rice or without, or even with or without vege’s. The art of soup making has literally been around since we discovered fire and started cooking our food. It really is just a matter of putting various foods into a pot of water and cooking it together. It can be served hot or cold. It can be preserved by canning it or freezing it. It can be cooked on any heat source including a camp fire. If using an open fire then place the pot over rocks or bricks set over a bed of coals. Placing it directly over the flame would be too hot.


Remember that in a survival situation Soup has many advantages over canned, store bought ready to eat foods:

1. It can be made with anything you have on hand, can catch, shoot or forage
2. It provides liquid at the same time as the meal to decrease dehydration
3. The salt content of home made soups will be a lot less than that of store bought (excess salt consumption will increase you water requirements)
4. It provides a nutritionally balanced meal that is filling and warming.
5. It can be eaten hot or cold
6. It can be preserved by canning or freezing
7. It can be kept warm on the back of a wood stove or camp fire for your whole family to eat at will.



1. You have to cook it
2. You need heat to cook it


Equipment Needed:

Large soup pot with a lid (Mine holds 5 gallons), the thicker the bottom the better
Long wooden spoon, you want to be able to stir and scrape the bottom when the pot is full
Heat Source
Any kind of meat, vegetables, grain, seasonings


Creature Soup

You will need:

1 large soup pot
1 long wooden spoon
A heat source for cooking (camp fire or wood stove will work just fine)
1 creature killed, cleaned and cut into pieces (any small mammal: rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, or even a piece of a larger creature such as a deer shoulder, etc)
Water to fill your pot
Vegetables (any kind will do) or cat tail shoots cleaned and cut up
Grain (any kind barley, steel cut oats, cracked wheat, rice etc)
Beans if you want
Spices (what ever strikes your fancy and is available IE: Onions, celery, peppers, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, thyme, rosemary, etc)
Pasta if you want

Place your creature, seasonings, beans (if desired) and water into the pot. Make sure there is enough water to thoroughly cover the creature by several inches. Cook slowly over a low heat with the lid on. In order to make a rich broth and have tender meat you will need to simmer it (not boiling) on low for several hours. Keep adding water as necessary to keep water over your meat by several inches. Once you notice the meat falling off the bones take it out and set it aside. By now the broth should smell yummy and have a nice rich color to it. If it is too weak for your taste you can add some bouillon. Tomatoes make a nice broth also. Add your grain to the pot at this time. Continue cooking slowly at a simmer. Stir frequently, as the grain cooks it will have a tendency to stick on the bottom and burn.

When the creature is cooled enough so that you can handle it remove all the meat off the bones, cut it into small pieces, across the grain of the meat and replace the meat into the pot.
Watch the grain. It will take a couple hours at a simmer to cook the grains until they are soft. If you are using fresh vegetables, add them when the grain still has a bit of a crunch to it. If you are using canned vegetables then add them when the grain has cooked to a soft texture and continue to simmer only to heat them up. Add pasta last as it only requires a few minutes of boiling to cook.


Left to right: Chicken broth, turkey vegetable (noodles to be added after opening, vegetable barley, French onion, Venison with vege’s and barley, Bean soup and Beef and barley (no vege’s). Notice the white lids with tape. Those are the Tattler reusable canning lids. You can see the edge of the red gasket under the white plastic lid. When I open those jars I will wash and reuse the lid the next time I can something.

This soup will provide a filling nutritious meal. Any leftovers may be frozen or canned into quart jars for eating at a later time. Always process your jars for the recommended time for the ingredient requiring the longest processing. If you are cooking it on a woodstove the soup pot can be kept on the back corner so as to keep it warm for several hours. Stir and add water as needed to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot or drying out.



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  1. I have a large quantity of wakame (dehydrated seaweed) that one can acquire at any asian food store. A 2.5 oz package will rehydrate into an unbelievable amount of delicious and nutritious vegetables loaded with vitamins. Wakame keeps for years if sealed in original containers. A thimble full will turn a thin broth into a soup brimming with vegetables for two. Try it. You will be delighted and it is relatively inexpensive when compared to other dehydrated vegetables.
    Good article and I have made many a critter stew while out in the wilds. Even pigeon, especially grain fed from the Midwest, (not sure about city pigeon) can be turned into a palatable stew. The starch from cattail roots can be used to thicken the stew. Nothing like hot stew on a cold day…

  2. Rattle snake…. YUMMY… Most people would go YUCK at the thought of snake. I lived in East Oakland until I was 10 then we moved to Calaveras county were Rattlers are abundant… We would go out at night and hunt them when they came onto the pavement for the warmth. A long stick to catch the resting snakes behind the head and a sharp knife to cut off such head. It was there that I learned that snake is yummy fried, souped, baked, and even grilled. You just have to make sure you cut it into small pieces or as it cooks the muscles contract and it slithers. I learned this the hard way one time when I was about 11 trying to pan fry some myself and I thought I was going to cheat and just flour it and put a very large piece into the pan whole… It ended up on the stove out of the pan… LOL Now I live in Northwest Arkansas where there are no rattle snakes. :o(

  3. To: SurvivorDan:

    City pigeon is all dark meat. I usually obtained them by snaring or net-gun. The flavor of the meat will depend upon what they have been feeding upon. A diet heavy in oak tree acorns will make the meat bitter. The soup stock I liked using for pigeons also contained some dry red wine in addition to garlic, salt and pepper. Bon Appetite.

  4. @BI Yup they are supposed to be here more toward the Ozarks though. I live right on the stateline of Oklahoma in Benton County so you can see on the map, we are extreme northwest. I have been here almost 30 years and have seen many cottonmouth’s and Copperhead also black snakes, garden snakes and occasionally a king snake. I have hiked the woods cut wood in the summer and hunted in the winter. Drove the roads at night even hoping for a glimpse of one but never so much as a button….

    I agree they do taste like chicken had a slight fishy taste like you had cooked chicken in oil you used to fry fish.

    Yup I have a full grocery right out my door. Cat tails grow wild by the ponds, there is sheep shire and dandelions in my yard, rabbits won’t stay out of my garden and squirrels abound in the trees. Wild garlic and onions grow faster than the grass. There are wild plum trees down the road that I harvest for jelly every year plus wild blackberries on my fenceline and wild blue berries in the woods. Plus edible mushrooms. And we have so many deer here that you can even harvest does legally and the bag limit is usually 4. Not to mention all of the domesticated items I have planted on my 5 acres and my chickens that deliver almost a dozen eggs a day… We also had a plague of grasshoppers last summer and I guess I could roast those too if all else failed… That is just to name a few of the “grocery” items available in my neck of the woods…. Even without a prepped pantry I know I could feed my bunch… But I do like the idea of having niceties packed away like my coffee!

  5. To Readers of this blog:

    Though I talked about eating rattlesnakes, I did not kill every snake that I saw. If one encounters a king snake or other non venomous species around your barn or garden, I hope we all have the wisdom to either leave them alone or relocate to a safer area for them. These are the good guys that keep a cap on the rodent population which can inadvertantly be good for our gardens, homesteads.

    When times are fat, I like to watch the deer feed in the empty lot and a rattlesnake 10 miles away from a road, house or campground isn’t hurting anybody. When I was young, partially employed and hungry, I shot and ate alot of this stuff. I dread the day I may have to again. I hope the readers of this blog will likewise eat things they enjoy and not be forced to chase down or shoot their dinner in the future.

    During times of drought, many farmers MAY have the problem of critters coming out of the hills to drink your water from a sprinklers, eating your vegetables because they are the only green things growing for miles around and eating your pets or livestock if they are left out at night.

    One exceptionally busy summer I remember was the third drought year in a row. Every backcountry water hole was dry, Bears were caught on security cameras in the gas stations that were closed, I think I shot almost a full box of ammo putting down all the skunks and raccoons that came in to steal eggs or kill chickens. That year was marked by some of the worse and largest wildland fires in Kalifornia History. I hope you all do not have to go through this. Those memories made it easier for me to relocate to greener pastures. KEN, I hope you are relocated to a better place. Christine, it sounds like you are in your happy place. Survive Well.

  6. @ TED, yes I am in my happy place the only thing I would like better is a bunch more land than the 5 acres I have…
    I totally agree about not killing the non-venomous kind. Also I would rather have the king and black snakes than the copperheads. Black snakes around here are very territorial and if you have a black snake living close by then the Copperheads do not come around. I have been told by the old timers around here that they eat the baby copperheads. This I can not be sure about as I have seen no scietific proof of that. I do know from first hand experience though if you have black snakes you will rarely see a copperhead but When I lived with my ex-husband and he killed the black snakes it seemed like soon after we were over run with copperheads.

  7. We practice a lot of one pot meals. Makes it easier on the cook, less pot & pan washing, and can be ccoked all day, simmered. Anything with rice/beans for a filler helps too. A kettle hanging on the fire can also relieve the cook of constant stiring. They can do soemthing else while supper is on. The ole days, vegetables were the mainstay & meat was a precious comodity. A little went a long way. Especially if you were feeding hired hands. Many a hired hand was fed for a days work and a place to sleep. Crews came bye thrashing wheat, timbering, and just plain farming. We had a one pot meal today, canned rabbit (tame), can of cream of chicken, peppers,onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, green beans, I think that was all I seen?????? Home made bread! It was almost like a beef stew but white, I was pleasently surprised.
    So many of my family refuse to eat onions, garlic, cabbage, odd stuff, guess what, it will sure leave more for me! I expect WTSHTF, one good meal will be all we get.

  8. I hear a lot of talk about rattlesnakes? Can all snakes be eaten? If I can get past the butchering/processing, I can eat just about anything. How do you clean a snake when I can’t hardly touch one.

    Edible food test, the nose test ( has to smell good), the eye test ( has to look appetizing)and the taste test ( taste good, even different than I’m used to is ok, but still taste good).

    1. I’m not sure if “all” snakes are safe to eat. Rattlesnakes are a lot like stringy chicken. Skinning a snake is easy. Avoid the head if venomous.

      Be well.

    2. I should have said more. The dog wanted some love.

      Skinning a snake is easy. Very few organs and the like. No bad smell like gutting an antelope or deer. You can produce a nice belt from the skin of the snake by salting it down.

      Be well.

  9. Do you cook by rolling in a flour or batter, then deep fry? I guess something like gator. I have caught long nose gar a many of time, but had never eaten one. Everybody says they are trash fish. ???? Well speaking of a belt, that gar had a skin like wire mesh! It tool my tin snips to cut it down the back, roll out two nice tenderloin fillets. I looked like chicken, tasted like gator, all white meat, not fish for sure. Messed with my head.

  10. Christine… You probably raise a lot of beans, since beans are a backbone item of any homestead. I usually raise a pole bean, Kentucky Wonder or green lake. But this year I raised an unknown heirloom pole bean that was given to me. They are not stringless & have a good meaty flavor. I also raised for the first time an Italian romano pole bean. The heat was a disaster on them, the blooms fell off until just recently. I picked 10+ qts this weekend. They are good also. What is your favorite bean? Easiest to raise, biggest producer?

  11. Sixpense, No telling why they call a shoulder a “Butt” seems like the Hams should be called that… I too add ground pork to my venison or the cheapest hamburger (73%)It has lots of fat, whichever I have available. Venison is just too dry for Bambi Burgers without it. I actually wrote an article on my blog about adding hamburger to venison. The last time I ground up a deer I had found some of the rolls of cheapo burger on mark down at Wally world.
    I have helped to render out fat for lard before when I was a kid. We used a big pot of boiling water. We boiled it a while then strained it and let it cool. The most beautiful white lard got hard on the top of the water.
    I have always raised kentucky wonder bush beans. This year I raised the pole variety but because of the drought we had a blight of grasshoppers. They litterally stripped my green beans over night and it was when my beans had just started putting on… I was SOOOO mad. One day I went out to my garden and picked enough green beans to can 8 quarts and the next morning all I had was stems!!! I increased my chicken and duck population and added Guineas so that if it happens next year they can help take care of them. I even resorted to chemical insecticides which I had never used in my garden and even that did not kill them!! They were virulent little buggers! They litterally ate the cabbages down to the core! Usually I can sprinkle some cayenne powder on things and they leave it alone but not this year. I got a bumper crop of cukes and put up probably 3 years worth of pickles and relish. I will sorely miss tumeric if my stockpile ever runs out! I got alot of Zuchinni also and canned a bunch of that seasoned with onions, garlic and itallian seasoning. Put up a bunch of stewed tomatoes also, catsup, juice etc. I use the left over juice from the stewed tomatoes, run it thru the sieve then cook down a bit and it tastes absolutely yummy! The potatoes and onions did great too.
    We are in the top corner of arkansas and was hit with what the gov said was exceptional drought and record heat. We had zero rain most of May, all of June and all of July. We just in the last 4 weeks started getting rain again. It was to the point I was getting concerned for the well being of my well!

  12. Christine, well here in Indiana, the drought was severe. Some of the farmers are getting 40+ bushels per acre. For some reason, I thought you were from Texas? Blog, what blog? I had family from the the Bentonville (wal-mart area). Migrated there in the big land rush in 1893 ??????? and Oklahoma. We are now getting rain at a regular pace, and the garden is now producing, yellow squash, green beans, & tomatoes. Fall cabbage & turnips growing like the weeds. Garlic sprouting. Thanks for the come back, look forward to more .

  13. Christine… I had trouble getting the Italian Romano pole beans to sprout this year. One would sprout and a couple would not? I dug them up to see what in the world was going on, maybe rot or varmit, nope. There that bean was just like the day I planted it? So this next year, I may pre-soak or sprout before I plant them. Never done that before.
    Checked out your blog, good!
    Our electric flat top range doesn’t recommend using large flat cooking pots on it, so I bought a older LP gas range for canning, or to use when the power fails. Our son had his top to crack with their largest saucepan on it. Never seen that before, but it did.

  14. Just ran across this site, on eating edible weeds. Interesting

    Eat the Weeds
    Green Deane

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