Taco Soup

Is it soup yet?

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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.

~~~    ~~~   ~~~

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!

 

Taco Soup

Ingredients:

  • 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.

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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.

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Comments

  1. I love all of the fun toppings you can add to taco soup. This is perfect for a cold day!

  2. So…. if you have this soup in that same bowl 3 times a day you could say…..can you hear it coming? You had 3 square meals that day!

  3. This is soup sounds SO good. You are right about the women of Calvary!

  4. 3 square meals. Har har.

    I don’t even want the stove top directions – this is just the kind of thing I would stick in my slow cooker. And I loved loved the post. What wonderful women, to do what they do for the other women of their community. It’s the kind of thing we urban folks miss out on. It really made me smile.

    • Maria- Anything that I can pile high with toppings makes me very happy. And it IS a cold day, isn’t it?

      Da Poppa- You’re like your grandsons… “Wait for it… Wait for it…” 3 square meals. Groan.

      Jen- Soup. It does a body good! Say hi to the gals for me!

  5. Thanks, this is just in time for the cold, wet weather here.
    Dinner tonight!

  6. Well, if that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart… what a wonderful story. Truly. As they say, “it takes a village…” Wish I had some neighbors like that. You’d think in the Midwest, but no. Everyone is pretty much man for himself here.

    Now, as for this Taco Soup. Hello. This screams cold, snowy, blah day. I’m reading through the list of ingredients and I’m like “uh huh. yep. keep talkin’.” I printed it out.

  7. This managed to show up in my Google Reader the day after we had tacos and had about one pound of the meat left over — in other words PERFECT TIMING. Went out to buy the beans (had everything else in the house) et voilà taco soup!

    I didn’t put the corn in because my husband has an aversion to corn in soup/stew and, let’s be real here, this was actually for him since I’m not a fan of beans. And I bought plain kidney beans instead of chili beans with sauce, so I toosed in a heaping teaspoon of chili powder to compensate. Also, I only used about 2 cups of stock since I threw it all into the slow cooker — about 5 hours on high — and no liquid would evaporate. Came out nice and stew-y and he LOVED it. No toppings other than shredded cheddar although he fantasized about crushing some hint-o’-lime tortilla chips to stir in.

    So glad I printed this. I will certainly keep the recipe around so I can make seasoned meat with abandon on taco night. Thanks!

    • Now THAT’S what I call fate! Thanks fantastic. I’m glad your husband liked it and that it was a success for you!

  8. Here’s the message I found in my e-mail inbox when I returned from lunch today:

    mmmmmmmmmmmm….
    I ate the last of it today for lunch.
    I’d enjoy this throughout the winter….please make again!

    Five-day-old leftovers engendered so much good feeling that they warranted a written note! I give you full credit for that one. :-)

  9. Hi, you might want to be careful about suggesting that anything with meat be stored in the fridge safely for a week. I realize that YOU and your family, etc. may do this, but it’s not a safe recommendation. The USDA food-handling guidelines say that ground beef is safe if stored the fridge below 40 degrees for 3-4 days max. Choosing to go beyond that for yourself is a personal choice, but recommending it to others is irresponsible. I don’t mean to be rude, but the information is true, and if anyone with a compromised immune system is served something that has not been handled safely, they could become very sick. I have had food poisoning, which is how I became so interested in this information.
    Here is a link to the USDA website, or you can Google USDA “cooked beef” “safe handling”http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Beef_from_Farm_to_Table/index.asp

  10. freespiritfarm says:

    I feel the need to make a comment in Rebecca’s defense. I have never experienced food poisoning from my own cooking in my own kitchen and we eat our leftovers for a week (if they last that long.)
    I happen to know Rebecca and she is the most food safety conscious person I know – can you say bleach, bleach, and more bleach. She loves the stuff. She is not a risk taker with food.
    And furthermore, the USDA and FDA are really not the great barons of food safety we might imagine. These are the people trying to foist NAIS on us – microchips in all our animals (which have caused tumors) in the name of “food safety”. Codex alimentarius, putting all supplements (herbs, vitamins, etc) under big pharma manufacturing and government regulation, again in the name of “safety”. How about not allowing the sale of raw milk, a far healthier product than the hormone, and antibiotic-laden fluid devoid of beneficial enzymes and probiotics, and implicated by some researchers to cause cancer. How about the revolving door between USDA higher ups and Mon Santo – the folks that bring us all the genetically modified food that is soaked with Roundup. Okay, enough on my soap box. I just think that it isn’t necessary to knock on Rebecca for saying she can store the soup for a week. Know your meat source – buy direct from the farm and get grass fed while your at it! Know how it’s handled by cooking it yourself, refrigerate promptly, use some common sense, and I expect you won’t need to worry about food poisoning.

  11. I can’t get the link to the printer friendly version to work. It doesn’t seem to take you there.

  12. Greetings:
    Visited this site for the first time today while searching for vegetable juice recipes.
    The food sounds great and your photography is wonderful!
    Aside from the V-juice, the Taco Soup really got my attention, can’t wait to try it.
    Sounds like a great Sabbath meal addition to my limited menu.

    I don’t have any home life/food pages at my website as yet, but will in the future.

    I didn’t have time to explore you site much today, but I will return for sure :)

  13. Do you think this would be good canned later on for leftovers instead of freezing this?

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