If you are ready to take a break from Chili, Chicken Wings or Pizza as your Superbowl staple next year, you might want to try Taco Soup. I made a crock this year and it was tasty, and so easy. This is a meal that you can easily adapt for omnivores as well as the vegetarians in your crowd. You can make this meal and have time to enjoy your day if you are capable of visiting the grocery store and using a can opener. The ingredients pictured below include Two 14 ounce cans of Stewed Tomatoes, Two 14 ounce cans of Diced Tomatoes, One small can of chopped green chilies, One 14 ounce can of Pinto Beans (I used Chili Beans which are seasoned Pinto Beans), One 14 ounce can of Kidney Beans and One 14 ounce can of Golden Hominy, which you can find in the grocery store near the canned beans.
- One medium yellow onion, chopped and sautéed;
- An envelope of low sodium Taco Seasoning or your favorite homemade mix of spicy seasonings, mixed according to preference, which should probably include, Cumin, Mexican Chili Powder, Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Oregano, Salt and Pepper.
- An envelope of Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Dressing or onion powder, dry dill, and a shot of low-fat Buttermilk, added 10 minutes before serving;
- 1 pound of ground beef, browned for the omnivore-version; and
- If you wish, you can add Vegetarian taco crumbles, prepared according to package directions for the vegetarian version. If you do opt for Vegetarian Taco crumbles, I like Taco Filling by Fantastic Foods.
I put everything into the crock except for the meat, and set the heat to high because game time was only a few hours away. You can make this on the stove in your favorite soup pan or dutch oven just as successfully as the crock pot, but I love the “fix it and forget it” aspect of cooking in the crock pot. After the beans, hominy, seasonings and onions had a good hour and a half to get warm and combined, I ladled a vegetarian portion into a separate sauce pan and put it in the fridge. I recommend giving the ground beef version more time in the crock, and separating out the veggie version into a separate pan as needed. The beef needs time to gather up the flavors in the pot, and is less likely to get dried out than the vegetarian version. Next, I added the browned ground beef to the crock. Then, all I had to do was keep the crock cooking until game time, which gave the flavors time to combine. This is where certain celebrity chefs who regularly appear on the Food Network who will remain unnamed would say that constant heat and time will allow the flavors to “marry.” I like the thought of distinct ingredients of a the soup spending time together, falling in love and then hanging out long enough to allow the distinct characteristics of each element to meld together and become a unified as a whole. But the Food Network has overworked the marriage of flavors descriptor a tad, so I’m trying to leave it on the shelf for now so that perhaps someday, that term can be revived into common use.
When it was close to game time, I took the saucepan of vegetarian Taco Soup out of the fridge and reheated it on the stove over medium heat. This is where the fun part of taco soup comes in: the toppings. I assembled a small array of some of our favorite taco toppings to serve along with the soup. Today we had shredded lettuce, crumbled corn tostadas, sliced jalapenos, light sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced black olives and radishes. Avocado, diced cucumber, chopped green onions or diced red onion and pepitos would also be great toppings for Taco Soup. Scoop chips are great for scooping up the soup and toppings from your bowl, regular tortilla chips or crackers would also be great to serve with the soup.
I served the soup in wide, shallow bowls. I wanted there to be enough surface space for us to add toppings. We each topped our bowl of soup the way we wanted, and then headed to the couch for kickoff.
Taco soup was the main dish for us on Superbowl Sunday, but it would also work well at a potluck, served in smaller bowls or cups. Also, you sure don’t have to have an important sporting event on TV to make this for supper. As a dish for the Superbowl, it is essential that you can eat it while seated on the couch. I will report that the shallow bowls were a good call because they did, in fact allow us to top the soup generously without making a mess, and the soup is thick enough to work just fine even with an ottoman as a dinner table.
This soup works because once you bring the crock pot and the right cans into the kitchen, it practically makes itself. It is hearty, and the toppings add variety and make for a fun and casual meal. Taco Soup also reheats wonderfully, so we both had a delicious bowl today for lunch. If it sounds good to you, give it a whirl!