We love our TexMex. And if you love TexMex, by default, you’ve gotta love tacos. I mean, who can’t love a taco, in all its endless variations? Soft tacos, crispy tacos, “Indian” tacos made on fry bread…we love tacos. 🙂
Sometimes, though, we’re not quite sure what we want? Chili? Um, nope, not exactly. Tacos? Well, kinda/maybe, but not exactly, but that’s more like the flavors we’re wanting. And that’s when it’s Taco Soup to the rescue!
Taco soup is an easy, lovely hybrid between tacos and chili, and we enjoy this truly satisfying one-meal dish year ’round. It’s easy to make — we nearly always have all the ingredients on hand, so no special trips required to the store if we decide to have it on a whim — and it’s versatile: you can make it with beef, you can make it with turkey, you can make it with chicken. You can add in extra beans or a vegetarian meat substitute and make it vegetarian/meatless. You can cook it on the stove top or cook it in a CrockPot. Leftovers freeze magnificently. It doubles easily to feed a crowd. Take to a pot luck in a CrockPot. Dress it up with some of your favorite TexMex/taco accompaniments: grated cheese (we use reduced fat, of course), jalapeño, even stir in a dollop of sour cream (suggest reduced-fat), guacamole, or diced avocado, if you like. Serve it with tortilla chips or Fritos — it’s an awesome way to use up those broken chips at the bottom of the bag. (To keep my carbs in check, I’m watchful and careful about how many chips I eat.) It’s also delicious with some corn bread or even crackers. And you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like. ¡Olé!
I snagged some 93/7 ground chicken on sale, so I’ll be pulling a pound of that out of the freezer and making our Taco Soup with ground chicken tonight.
TACO SOUP (Makes 6 to 8 servings)
- 1 lb lean (93/7) ground beef (or use chicken or turkey–see below)
- 1 package taco seasoning (or season as you would for tacos)
- 1 small to medium onion, chopped or diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies, UNDRAINED (I prefer Rotel)
- 1 can (14 – 15 ounces) corn or fiesta-style corn, drained, OR a 12 oz package frozen corn or fiesta corn (I prefer the frozen) (NOTE: “Fiesta Corn,” sometimes packaged as “Cowboy Corn” or “Chuckwagon Corn,” is simply corn plus some chopped/diced red and/or green pepper and maybe some onion, as well. Regular corn will work just fine, or you can dice up some red or green bell pepper if you like and add it in with the onion.)
- 1 small can (8 oz) tomato sauce (if I’m wanting extra spice, I sometimes will use some El Pato seasoned tomato sauce)
- 1 small can (4 oz) sliced black olives, drained, if desired
- 1 can kidney, Ranch style, pinto, or chili beans, rinsed and drained (MUY IMPORTANTE: If making with turkey or chicken, use black beans or white/navy beans; otherwise, it just won’t taste right)
- Water to taste
- Favorite TexMex/taco accompaniments: grated cheese (we use reduced fat, of course), jalapeño, toasted tortilla strips, even stir in a dollop of sour cream (suggest reduced-fat), guacamole or diced avocado, if you like
- Tortilla chips, Fritos, cornbread, crackers — whatever you have on hand and/or wish to have
- Lightly spray, season with oil, or add a dollop of canola oil in a non-stick soup pot (4 -5 qt) or Dutch oven, heat to medium-high heat and brown ground beef; drain if needed. Add the onion now and sauté it, too, or add it to the soup later—your preference.
- Season meat according to taco seasoning directions, reducing heat as necessary.
- Add in onion (if you haven’t already added them in), the tomatoes with green chilies, the corn, the tomato sauce, the black olives (if using), and the beans, and stir.
- Add water as desired—as I rinse out my cans to go into the trash, I pour the water from the cans into the soup (but remember, I use frozen corn, so I’m only adding water from diced tomatoes can, tomato sauce can, and bean can). Generally, you want it to be fairly liquid and soupy if you’re serving it over chips or cornbread.
- Bring to a boil or to the edge of a boil; then reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes. (You can let it simmer longer if you want to.)
- Serve over tortilla chips or Fritos, or over or alongside corn bread or crackers. “Dress” as desired with your favorite accompaniments. Our favorite way to eat it is to crunch a few tortilla chips into the bowl (great way to use up those crumbs in the bottom of the bag!), sprinkle chips with a bit of cheese and maybe a few jalapeño slices, top with soup (which is why it needs to be a “soupy” consistency—chips thicken it), and maybe a bit more cheese.
To Make In the CrockPot: Brown and season meat (and onion, if desired) in skillet, then put all ingredients into Crock Pot, but add a bit less water (the CrockPot will add a bit more liquid through condensation). Cook on low for 4 or 5 hours; on high for 2 or 3 hours. (You could probably cook it all day on low, if you wanted to, but it cooks relatively quickly on the stove, so I figure it wouldn’t really take all day in the CrockPot.)
Make it with Chicken: Substitute 1 lb chicken breast, cut into chunks, or ground chicken and brown, then continue as above. Or, use leftover roasted chicken. Use black beans instead of kidney or other type of bean.
Make it with Turkey: Use ground turkey or chunks of leftover roasted turkey meat. Use black beans instead of kidney or other type of bean.
Make it Vegetarian/Meatless: Substitute an equivalent in vegetarian taco meat substitute or additional can or two of beans in place of the meat. You can do a mixture of beans or use all one kind of bean.
It smells — and tastes! — so yummy that you may be tempted to sing the “Frito Bandito” song 😉