Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Favorite Soup (for this week, anyway!)

Tired of turkey and shopping yet? Today's recipe, Taco Soup, is one of my very favorites, and makes a great comfort food during these cold winter months. It's easy, and as you'll see, very versatile. The basic recipe is this:
  • 1 pound of ground meat
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn
  • 1 can of beans
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of cooked tomatoes
  • 1 pkg of taco seasoning.
Brown the ground meat, drain, return to pot. Add all other ingredients, plus a can or two of water for the tomato paste. Bring to a "bubble", then cover and simmer at least 20-30 minutes.
Over the years I have varied this in lots of different ways. My family doesn't really like "chunks" of tomatoes, so I leave that out, and I usually use tomato sauce instead of tomato paste, so I use 2 or 3 cans of tomato sauce in place of the tomatoes and tomato paste. Once in a pinch I used a can of tomato soup and a can of cheddar cheese soup, and it was delicious that way, too.
I've used several different kinds of beans, according, again, to what I've had on hand. One of my favorites for this is small red beans, but I've used kidney beans, pinto beans, ranch style beans, and canned baked beans. I think it would be really good with a mixture of black and red beans.
You can also vary the meat if you'd like. I've made this with ground beef or turkey, and often use a mixture of both if I have them on hand.
My version that I make most often these days is 2 lbs of ground meat, 2 cans of corn, 1 can of beans, 2 or 3 cans of tomato sauce, and 2 packages of taco seasoning. This makes a big pot full. I've never frozen this, because we usually eat on it for a couple of days, and then have any other leftovers for lunches, but I think it would probably freeze well.
Serve this with grated cheddar cheese, crackers, tortilla chips, cornbread, or any combination of these! (It's really good with a little dollop of sour cream on top, but I'm the only one in my family who likes sour cream, so I seldom have any on hand unless I need it for a recipe!)
I think one of things I like about this recipe is that most of ingredients are things you can have on hand at all times. Obviously, you don't have to use just canned ingredients. I've made this using leftover cooked pinto beans and frozen corn from my parents' garden, and with frozen home grown tomatoes that I've thawed and run through the blender (to get rid of those pesky "lumps" of tomatoes).
Any way you make it, this is good!
Good cooking, and good eating!
edited to add: for links to more recipes, see The Grocery Cart Challenge