The church we attended when all five of our kids were born had a charming habit of providing two weeks of meals for families with new babies. I cherished the food I received after the births of my children. You could say they were like manna from heaven.
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 to feed my family and admire our new (now 9 year old) baby.
Taco Soup 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 slept. When I eat this I remember my friends who tramped through snow storms to bring my family sustenance and companionship.
When I cook Taco Soup, 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.
- If you use home-canned or home cooked beans, you may find you need to raise the salt content of the Taco Soup. Taste the soup before serving and adjust accordingly.
- Replace the chicken broth with beer, add a couple handfuls of masa and you will have an excellent pot of chili.
- I always make my Taco Soup with my Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Mix but it can be made with purchased mix as well.
- 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.
- If you want a tex-mex inspired meal to remember, serve Taco Soup with Crispy, Creamy Avocado Fries.
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- 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.)
- 2 tablespoons or 1 packet Ranch Dressing Mix (Homemade or purchased)
- 2 tablespoons or 1 packet taco or enchilada seasoning (If using seasoned meat, this can be omitted!)
- 1 can black beans, or two cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can pinto beans, or two cups cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can chili beans with sauce
- 2 cups frozen corn kernels
- Tortilla or corn chips
- Grated cheese
- Sour Cream or plain yogurt
- Sliced green onions
- Minced fresh cilantro
- Diced tomatoes
- Avocado cubes or slices or guacamole
- lime wedges
- 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.
- 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.
Originally posted on December 8, 2009.