Taco Soup

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You know I love a good taco (mmmm…carnitas), but I also love a good soup, especially when it’s cold outside. So what happens when you can’t decide between two radically different meals? You combine them, of course! Meet taco soup!

The beauty of this recipe is that you just dump a bunch of cans into a slow cooker, let it do its thing all day, and then you eat loads of taco goodness. If you don’t have 6-8 hours to slow cook this soup, you can also simmer it in a pot on the stove for about an hour.

The original recipe comes from Paula Deen. I’ve made it so many times, but I’ve made a couple substitutions and clarifications. I’ll explain along the way.

First, in the slow cooker (if you have a saute setting) or in a pan, brown some ground turkey and chopped onions with some salt and pepper. The original recipe did not call for the salt and pepper, but I think it’s important to season your meat or it could taste bland. This recipe also calls for beef, but turkey is so much better. The beef overpowered the other ingredients and made it too meaty, if that’s possible. But this is just my opinion. Feel free to use any type of ground meat.

Next you’ll be doing some labor intensive can opening. About 9 cans worth. I’m not kidding. This recipe has a ton of ingredients, but isn’t that better than chopping 9 different ingredients? Seriously, the can is your friend.

Taco Soup

After opening all these cans, add the browned meat to a large slow cooker and then start dumping each can in. Be sure to drain the olives and corn, but not the beans. You’ll need that for the liquid, which is something the original recipe doesn’t mention. Learn from my mistakes. This is soup, not some sort of defiant bean chili that would make every Texan cry. You’ll also add packets of ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning. Ranch?! Yes! Trust me. As with bacon, everything is better with ranch. This soup is no exception.

Taco Soup

This is a pretty mild soup so if you need something with more kick, don’t use mild canned tomatoes with chiles. Buy the hot stuff. If that’s not spicy enough, add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce, a couple pinches of red pepper flakes, or a couple chopped up jalapenos. Sliced pickled jalapenos would be good too.

Mix it all together and slow cook on low for at least 6 hours (or simmer for an hour). When it’s ready, mix it up again and ladle it into soup bowls. Garnish with your favorite taco toppings or even top with some corn or tortilla chips.

This soup is so satisfying on a cold winter evening or even in the middle of summer when you want a taco but you’ve run out of tortillas (but you happen to have 9 cans of stuff…okay, a stretch of the imagination, but work with me here!). It’s so delicious that you’ll even forget to take pictures of it served. Like I did.

Taco Soup

This recipe makes a lot of soup. Freeze leftovers or refrigerate to enjoy throughout the week.

Taco Soup

Taco Soup

Servings 16

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds turkey
  • 2 cups onions diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 15.5 ounce canned pinto beans undrained
  • 15.5 ounces canned kidney beans undrained
  • 15.25 ounces whole canned corn drained
  • 14.5 ounces canned Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
  • 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 14.5 ounces canned tomatoes with chiles hot or mild
  • 9 ounces canned diced green chiles
  • 6.5 ounces canned black olives sliced and drained
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 package ranch salad dressing mix
  • taco toppings see recipe

Instructions
 

  • Brown the ground turkey and onions on the saute setting of a slow cooker or in a skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • If needed, transfer the browned turkey and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot.
  • Drain the corn and olives. Do not drain the rest of the cans. Add the beans, corn (drained), tomatoes, green chiles, olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix.
  • Cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove.
  • To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Top with corn or tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, green onions and/or jalapenos.
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Chicken Noodle Soup

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The days are chilly and crisp, yet often bright. Everyone and everything just wants to be cozy. We’re in the midst of soup season. I’ve made this chicken noodle soup recipe a few times before (thank you Food Network!) and now I’m spoiled. No more canned chicken noodle soup for me. No more mushy noodles and veggies, if I can even find any goodies. A bit of carrot? A scrap of chicken?

This recipe calls for parsnips, which I rarely use and barely familiar with. I also get them mixed up with turnips. And how does the rutabaga fit in, other than it’s a funny word to say? Let’s educate ourselves, shall we?

The parsnip is a long, tuberous root vegetable, has cream-colored skin and flesh root, and is related to carrots and parsley.

Turnips look completely different. They are round and mostly white, with some purple, red, or green, depending on the variety. So what’s a rutabaga? Some say it’s the same as a turnip, but others disagree. The rutabaga is larger and sweeter, is a cross between a cabbage and turnip, and has a yellow flesh.

The secret soup ingredient is fresh dill. Don’t skip it. I’ve made this soup with and without, and there’s something about that sweet, slightly licorice flavor that enhances the chicken and veggies. It sounds weird, but it works.

My only issue with this recipes is that there’s way too little broth, but I ended up using that in my favor. If you are eating the soup in one sitting, use 1 1/2 to 2 times the amount of broth the recipe calls for, about 9-12 cups. For our family of three, I split the original recipe and used 4 cups of broth instead of 3. The original recipe makes 4 large portions, but these people must be giants. We were able to get 8 servings from the full recipe. On the first day, I will serve the soup with most of the broth. This prevents your noodles from soaking in the broth and becoming mushy for when you have it for leftovers. When you do heat it up again, add another 4 cups of broth so it’s more like soup instead of a plate of pasta.

I like to prep everything first. First chop your veggies.

Then dice your chicken. If you do it the other way around, you’ll need to use two cutting boards instead of one to avoid cross-contamination.

First add your carrots. Wait a minute or so. Then add your parsnips and wait another minute or two. The recipe assumes you are chopping as you go along so if you prep like me, don’t add the veggies all at once. Space it out. Add the onions next. Another couple minutes later, add your celery. Adding your veggies in this order ensures that the carrots are cooked the longest and the celery is not over cooked.

Season and add a couple bay leaves. Add your preferred amount of broth, boil, add chicken, and boil again. Turn it down to simmer, cook the chicken for a couple of minutes, and then add the noodles.

When the noodles are tender, your soup is about ready. You just need to add fresh parsley and dill (don’t use dried!), remove bay leaves, and serve. Yum. Now you are all cozy.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 parsnip peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 9-12 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound chicken breasts diced
  • 1 1/2 cups egg noodles
  • handful fresh parsley chopped
  • handful fresh dill chopped

Instructions
 

  • Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a very large pot over moderate heat. Prep the vegetables by chopping/or peeling them. Keep them in separate piles.
  • Add each vegetable to the pot in the order they are listed, waiting a couple minutes between each vegetable before adding the next.
  • Add bay leaves and season vegetables with salt and pepper, to taste. Depending on how thick you want your soup, add broth to the pot until it's the amount you prefer. Bring it to a boil.
  • Add diced chicken, return soup to a boil, and reduce heat back to moderate. Cook the chicken for 2 minutes and then add the noodles. Cook the soup for 6 minutes or until noodles are tender. Remove soup from the heat.
  • Stir in parsley and dill, remove bay leaves, and serve.
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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

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After reading an article about wild rice, my husband asked me if I could cook some wild rice for dinner. I completely jumped on the opportunity. You see, as much as I adore my husband, he’s not a foodie. He likes his steak. He likes tasty food. But he would be just as satisfied if he could skip the whole eating process. It takes away from his (gaming) hobbies whereas eating and making food is my hobby. So when he asked for wild rice, I was pretty excited.

I searched high and low for a tasty wild rice recipe. I was inspired by the weather. It’s been rainy and cold so therefore, soup weather. I decided on a soup recipe from Food and Wine. I stuck to the recipe, but if I had to do it over again, I’d leave out the cream. Don’t get me wrong, the cream makes it…creamy (duh). But apparently some of us do not like creamy soups except for clam chowder. And maybe potato and leek. Whatever. Let’s just leave it at that.

First, let’s talk about wild rice. What the heck is it exactly? Wild rice is a grain and distant cousin to white and brown rice. Like other rices, wild rice is the seed from a type of grass grown in Asian and the US, but not the same grass of other rices. It’s more common in the US and pretty healthy for you. High in fiber and protein. Full of antioxidants. That sort of thing. It’s nutty and chewy so seriously, it does feel like you’re eating a superfood.

To make this recipe, I needed 4 cups of cooked chicken. You can use a rotisserie chicken or any leftover chicken, but I didn’t have any so I cubed two large chicken breasts, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and cooked them until they were no longer opaque. I didn’t want to cook it beyond that because I knew they’d continue to cook in the soup and my family is adverse to dried out chicken. So picky.

While the chicken is cooking, I chopped my veggies. It’s important that your carrots and celery are the same thickness, about a 1/2 inch.

In a dutch oven, I melted butter and then added the veggies and seasonings.

Stir it until everything’s starting to soften, but not too much. You want the carrots to be barely tender or they’ll end up mushy at the end. Note that you will be cooking this soup for another 45 minutes. Add flour and cook for another 3 minutes. Add rice and stock. After boiling, bring it down to a simmer and let it do its thing for 30 minutes.

Your veggies will continue to soften and your rice will begin to cook. Add chicken and let it simmer for 15 minutes until the wild rice is tender. If you’ve never had wild rice before, here’s a tip. It won’t be as tender as other rice, but chewy and you can bite through it. At the very end (or not), stir in the cream. Add some salt and pepper, and then serve. This is a really hearty soup that will fill you up and not leave you hungry.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 celery stalks cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces wild rice about 1 cup
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups cooked chicken cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream optional

Instructions
 

  • In a dutch oven (or large saucepan), melt the butter. Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, thyme and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables just start to soften, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, until evenly coated and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the wild rice to the saucepan and gradually stir in the stock and water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Add the chicken and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the wild rice is tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Stir in the cream (optional – if you want a creamy soup) and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
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