Is it soup yet?
We lived in Le Roy for just over a decade. We loved our home, our church, our community. We had rebuilt the house while living in it. (This process was helped along by the fact that it was bare studs, floors and outer walls and absolutely-nothing-else when we bought it.) We could’ve stayed and stayed and stayed until we passed beyond the veil. So why did we leave? By the time we made an offer on our current home, we were a family of seven with two morbidly obese dogs and many musical instruments crammed into a 1300 square foot home.
It started way back with the birth of my first son. When we brought Liam home, the phone was ringing and it was the community outreach coordinator from church. She informed me that it was the practice of the church women to provide meals to new mothers for the first two weeks after a baby was born. I accepted (because how can you say no to that?) but secretly thought to myself that I didn’t know why they thought I wouldn’t be able to make our family’s meals. I learned. Quickly.
Those meals came for fourteen days and fourteen nights and they were good.
When, two months later, baby Liam was rushed to the hospital for a life-saving surgery, the women once again provided meals so we could focus on helping Liam recover.
Two years later, just before Aidan was born, my meal angel called again. I was shocked. I said, “I thought the meals were just for new mothers!” She laughed and said, “Well, this baby will be new, won’t he?” I gratefully accepted the offer and the meals. This time, since I had a c-section, the meals were the only thing standing stalwartly between us and a steady diet of cold cereal.
And once again, the meals came for fourteen days and fourteen nights and they were good.
Another two years on, and another beautiful baby boy, the meals rolled in for another two weeks. Ty nursed happily. I reheated happily. I cherished the food I received after the births of my children. You could say they were like manna from heaven. After the births of Leif and Rowan, they kept the meals a-coming like the loaves and the fishes.
I don’t mean to suggest that I carried on having more kids in order to get the free meals from those amazing cooks over at Calvary. That would be just wrong. It’s pure coincidence that I haven’t had any more kids since moving. I kept having children because I loved my boys. Okay. And the meals. Those women were GOOD cooks.
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If you happen to find yourself in Le Roy, New York on a Sunday morning, stop in at the golf-ball church. The preaching is great, the people are friendly and if you’re lucky they’ll be hosting a potluck or a fellowship meal. It’s worth your time. Trust me.
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This family-favorite, Taco Soup, was one of those fabulous meals and was brought to us by my dear friend, Carolyn. It has graced our table many times, and in many forms, over the years since Carolyn came into my kitchen bearing a steaming crock of soup, tortilla chips, grated cheese, and sour cream.
This is a memory soup. One whiff of this bubbling away on the stovetop and my entire body remembers the feeling of cradling a sweet smelling, impossibly soft newborn. I watch my boys eat this and remember their little balled fists resting on my chest as they nursed to sleep. When I eat this I remember my friends who tramped through snow storms to bring my family sustenance and companionship.
When I cook this, I remember taking it to my little sister, Jessamine, after her baby boy, Ezra was born. That time it had a little extra something special in it. When Jessie sat down later that evening to eat it, she found a spider floating in her soup. Whether it came with the soup from my house or jumped in in a fit of despair somewhere else along the road we’ll never know. Her husband ate it anyway. The soup, that is.
As with most soups, many of the ingredients are changeable. Don’t fancy chili beans or pinto beans? Add some pork and beans or kidney beans instead. Do you prefer home-cooked beans? Believe me when I tell you this soup is sublime with them. Replace the chicken broth with beer, add a couple handfuls of masa and you will have an excellent pot of chili. To make a hearty vegetarian soup, replace the chicken broth with beer or vegetable broth, and omit the meat. You can leave as is or add in crumbles or TVP. Feel free to add spiders if you like ‘em. My sister and I will go without.
It’s cold out there. You need soup. You need this soup!
For a photo-free, printer friendly version, click here!
- 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained ~or~ 3 cups leftover cooked meat, chopped
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed or diced tomatoes
- 2-3 cups chicken broth or stock (Depending on how soupy you like your soup. Using less broth will result in a thicker soup.)
- 1 packet Ranch Dressing Mix
- 1 packet taco or enchilada seasoning (If using seasoned meat, this can be omitted!)
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can chili beans with sauce
- 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen corn kernels
Optional for serving:
- Tortilla or corn chips
- Grated cheese
- Sour Cream or plain yogurt
- Sliced green onions
- Minced fresh cilantro
- Diced tomatoes
Slow Cooker Directions (see below for Stove top directions):
In a slow cooker crock stir together meat, tomatoes, dressing and seasoning mixes (if using), black beans, chili beans with sauce, pinto beans and corn. Place lid on crock, turn slow cooker to ‘LOW’ and cook for 6-8 hours.
Serve with or without toppings.
Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also portion the leftover soup into individual servings and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Stove top Directions:
Stir together meat, tomatoes, dressing and seasoning mixes (if using), black beans, chili beans with sauce, pinto beans and corn in an appropriately sized soup pot. Place lid on pot, put pot over medium low heat and bring to a simmer. Remove the lid and allow to simmer gently for 30-40 minutes or until soup is slightly thickened.
Serve with or without toppings. Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also portion the leftover soup into individual servings and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.