Easy Taco Soup
In the event that you are tasked with feeding a large group of ravenous college students for $12, might I suggest a triple batch of this Easy Taco Soup?
Add a little gourmet garnish with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and sour cream, and you’ll glide in just under $20.
I snagged this budget-friendly taco soup recipe from my friend Laura in college, and although I could now treat myself to a more up-scale version, Laura’s original is so tasty, I’ve never felt the need. It’s zesty, satisfying, and ready to go in 10 minutes.
I’m not precisely sure what it is about many Mexican-inspired dishes that allow them to taste so good for so little dinero, but this taco soup is the concept incarnate. A mere read of the ingredients—white beans, corn, tomatoes, and spices—will leave you skeptical, but just ask the 11 other people who I convinced to make a triple batch of it for dinner during a service trip my junior year of college. It is excellent.
On the last night of our trip, we had only $20 left in the meal budget and 12 appetites. Bossy girl that I am, I took hold of the shopping list and insisted we make easy taco soup. The group watched incredulously as I dumped the ingredients into a giant pot, stirred, and waited for them to heat.
I could read the doubt on their faces: surely something that easy and that low budget could not taste that good.
Oh but it can. We ate the pot clean, and I emailed the recipe out to the group by request as soon as we arrived back at campus.
The soup boasts an addictive southwest ranch flavor, and the lovely contrast of the creamy beans with the crunchy chips pleases with every bite. While this taco soup is by no means comparable to a truly authentic Mexican recipe or a stew that has been simmering on the stove all day, when you are looking for a quick, healthy, and tasty meal, it is hard to find a recipe better suited for the task.
Laura’s original recipe (which she confessed came from Weight Watchers) calls for a packet of taco seasoning and a packet of ranch seasoning. Seeking a more wholesome alternative for today’s version, I replaced the packets with a natural blend of spices that mimics their flavor but is much gentler on the sodium allocation. I also trimmed down the recipe’s original yield of “colossal” to the more moderate quantity of “good for a family dinner, with a reasonable amount of freezer or lunch-friendly leftovers.”
For the meat lovers: If you like, you can sauté lean ground beef or ground turkey on the side, pat it dry, then stir it into the soup at the end.
For the good of all: Whether you keep this soup vegetarian friendly or add a little something for the carnivores, don’t forget the cheese, avocado, and a few crunchy tortilla chips on top. The fixin’s add great flavor and texture you won’t want to miss.
Easy Taco Soup
- 2 cans Great Northern Beans — (14-ounce cans) rinsed and drained
- 1 can diced tomatoes in their juices — (28 ounces)
- 1 can Mexican-style corn — (14 ounces) drained
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- Toppings: Crushed tortilla chips — freshly grated cheese (I like sharp cheddar), sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt, freshly chopped cilantro, avocado
Combine all of the ingredients in a large, deep soup pot over medium heat. Stir to combine. Continue heating until warmed through. Taste, adding additional salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot with desired toppings.
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