Taco Soup

Posted on October 12, 2007. Filed under: beef, maindish, mexican, soup/stew |

This week’s going to be a soup week, I can tell. It’s currently five minutes to midnight, 47 degrees out. This may not seem too cold for October, and technically it’s not, but it was 85 degrees two days ago. Therefore, I’m wearing a sweatshirt and socks. The socks, especially, are a sign of autumn/winter; my feet get cold on my parquet floors.

Anyway, point is, I made my menu and grocery list earlier tonight, and let’s just say that crisp, cool summer salads did not play a starring role. Instead we’ve got tomato and spinach soup (stay tuned) and Paula Deen’s taco soup. I love Paula; she’s one of the few Food Network personalities I can watch on a regular basis without wanting to throw a shoe at my tv screen (Ina Garten is another; Nigella Lawson might be a third if I could ever catch an episode other than the Healthy Show. And Ellie Krieger.) Paula’s cooking reminds me of home, even though she’s very Southern and I’m from the upper Midwest. There’s a lack of complication. I know I can make her recipes without a degree from the CIA and a sous chef at my side.

My mother emailed me the taco soup recipe, I think it came out of the cookbook I bought her at the Atlanta airport when I was stuck waiting for a connecting flight there once, although she could have just as easily pulled it off the Food Network website. It can be made in the crockpot, but I generally prefer not to, because you have to brown the meat first. It’s an unwritten rule with me that if I start something on the stove, I keep it there. Also, I’m just as likely to accidently drop the meat on the floor when I’m transferring it to the crockpot. And that would be tragic.

This recipe makes a HUGE amount of soup – 12 to 16 servings. I always halve it because I live alone, and unlike Paula, I am not feeding a few generations. I’m feeding me, and possibly my cat if I turn my back and he makes a dive for the bowl.

2 lb ground beef
2 C chopped onions
2-15 ½ oz cans pink kidney beans
2-15 ½ oz cans pinto beans
1 -5 ½ oz can niblet corn, drained
1-14 ½ oz can Del Monte Mexican tomatoes
1-14 ½ oz can diced tomatoes
1-14 ½ oz can Del Monte tomatoes with chilies
2-4 ½ oz cans diced green chilies
1 small can black olives, drained and sliced (optional)
½ cup green olives, sliced (optional)
1-1 ¼ oz package taco seasoning mix
1 1-oz package Hidden Valley Original Ranch salad dressing mix
Corn chips
Sour cream
Grated cheese
Chopped onions

Brown the ground beef and onions in large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large crockpot or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, chilies, olives, and seasonings, and cook on low setting all day (6-8 hours) if using a crockpot, or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a stockpot on the stove. To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese, and onions.

This is the original 12-16 serving recipe. I add all the beans, because I’m crazy for beans, but I usually pick two of the tomato varieties and call that good enough. Usually the plain diced and then either the Mexican or the tomatoes with chiles, depending what I can find at the grocery store that week. Serving the soup over chips isn’t strictly required, but it’s a delicious way to eat it.

Even halved, I’m eating this recipe for days. Luckily it’s good enough that I can do it without getting sick of it.

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