Warm Up From Winter: Quick and Easy Taco Soup

taco soupWe just got another snowfall yesterday.  We’ve had two in the last couple of weeks.  This one was only an inch or two, but the one before was a little more serious–we had about 4 inches before it started to rain and turned it all into slick, heavy slush.  That storm was predicted to be much larger, so the grocery stores were cleared out by the night before.  We were quite prepared, mostly with wood and water, since our well water will stop if the electricity is knocked out.  Luckily, everything stayed steady.  In general, I think it all looked much worse than it was, in reality.  That snowfall was the first we’d gotten this season.  Its been quite cold, but stayed dry until then.  Now, we are stuck in a strange cycle of warm days falling into freezing ones.  Everyone’s immune systems seem to have gone haywire, since one warm week was enough to have several plants send out pollen, and the constant swing from warm to cold has worsened the last few flus and colds running through our workplace.

snow daffodils

Even the daffodils are confused

After a stretch of warm days, the weather turned blusteringly cold overnight, much to my displeasure.  After running through the cold from one job to the next, I was craving hot, steamy, spicy soup to take off the chill of the day.  We were almost due for a trip to the grocery store, but, thankfully, my stock of canned goods got me through this recipe.  If you are looking for something quick and simple, stick to the cans or whatever you may have on hand for this recipe.  Equal amounts of fresh or frozen ingredients can definitely be used!  You can also adjust the heat level to your tastes by adjusting the amount of chili powder and hot sauce.  This is a solid medium heat level–I wanted a definite kick in this simmering soup.

taco soup toppings

I also have some very exciting news: we found out yesterday that we were approved for our rental application!  M and I will be moving in with our friend S, into a townhouse with a beautiful open kitchen.  I have amazing amounts of cabinet space, granite countertops, a proper pantry, a gas stove, and a breakfast bar!  We can move in April 1st, and I will definitely be posting some pictures soon afterwards.  It’ll be wonderful to live in a house with our own washer and dryer (instead of hauling the laundry out to my mother’s) and to have Punc live with us fulltime (again, instead of out at my mother’s).  This will also be my first time stocking my own kitchen!  I am supremely excited!  I have way too many plans for crafts and gardening–look out for some crafty posts on here soon!

taco soup plate

I will do my best to keep my excited gushing in check.  The next few weeks will be a little bit hectic as we try to pack and organize.  I know we won’t exactly realize what we need until we are actually in the house, so it’ll be a slow process.  I will keep you posted!  And, I have several recipes waiting in the wings, so I will try to stay on track with posting!  For now,  enjoy this soup before the days grow too warm…it is the perfect pick-me-up at the end of a brisk day!  I made some chili-spiced sweet potato wedges as a side dish (sprinkle sliced potatoes with oil oil and spices, bake at 400 degrees F for 25-35 minutes).  I highly suggest topping the soup with a bit of sour cream–it melt gloriously into the broth.  But feel free to alter this to your taste.  You know what you like best!

taco soup top

Taco Soup

Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes

  • 4 c. (32-oz or 1 lg box) low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 med. red onion
  • 1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 16-oz can of kidney beans/black bean
  • 3/4 c. frozen corn (or 1 sm. can of corn)
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/3 packet taco seasoning (about 1 Tbsp–I used Trader Joe’s*)
  • Hot sauce to taste (I used 1 dash of Dave’s Insanity Sauce, I would have used more of a regular tasbasco or Frank’s)
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro, optional

*Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning contains no gluten-containing ingredients.  Please always check store-bought mixes for hidden gluten!

Add the chicken stock to a large stock pot.  Heat to a boil over medium heat.  Trim any fat from the chicken breast, then place in the boiling stock to poach.  Return to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked through.  Remove breast from stock, set aside to cool.  Optionally, skim any bits of fat from the stock.  While the chicken is poaching, chop the onion on a medium dice, and drain and thoroughly rinse the beans (if using canned).   In a small skillet, cook bacon.  Remove to side to cool.  Add onions to the skillet, cook for about 3 minutes in the bacon grease.  Spoon onions out with a slotted spoon.  When the broth is hot and you have removed the chicken, add the onions, beans, tomatoes and corn.  Raise the heat to return soup to boil.  Stir in garlic, taco seasoning, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, and cilantro.  Shred the reserved chicken, and chop the cooked bacon into small pieces.  Add meat to post, stir, and return to boil.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, a lime wedge, and more cilantro.  We served our with margaritas!  Enjoy!