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Welcome to Soup Month 2022! Every Friday in October will feature a new, luscious soup recipe. First up is Taco Soup! I was not introduced to taco soup until my 20s. While I was serving as a missionary in Austria, we had a conference with all of the Sister missionaries. At dinner time, out came a pot full of beans, ground beef, and vegetables in a tomato-y broth awash with spices. As we dug in, I felt the warm feeling of nostalgia wash over me, even though this was an unfamiliar dish. It’s funny how you can taste your home culture. A good, old-fashioned slice of Americana was most welcome after almost 18 months away.
Origins of Taco Soup
Where did taco soup come from? It’s kind of a mystery! Taco soup doesn’t seem to have any origin stories that I can find. If you have heard one, please leave it in the comments. I love food origin myths. We only truly know where a limited number of dishes come from, the rest of the tales are handed down through tradition and we all swear we know the true version of the story. All I could find about taco soup is that originated in the Southwest United States sometime in the 1950’s.
What is Taco Soup?
Taco soup is a tomato-based soup with ground beef and vegetables seasoned with aromatic Southwestern seasonings. What’s the difference between chili and taco soup, you ask? That depends on your definition of “chili.” For me, taco soup includes more vegetables than chili, such as carrots and corn. Chili also tends to be at least somewhat spicy, where my taco soup is mild and rich. You can certainly pump up the heat with some hot peppers sauteed with the onions if you wish.
At least half of the joy of this soup comes from the toppings. The soup is very good without them, but really shines when accessories such as sour cream, Fritos, cheese, and avocado slices are generously added. The toppings add texture, creaminess, and happiness. Especially don’t skip the Fritos.
This recipe uses mostly pantry ingredients. The only specialty ingredient may be smoked paprika, which you can find at most grocery stores.
Can I Use Pre-Made Taco Seasoning?
You could use a pre-made taco seasoning instead of the spice blend listed in the recipe in a pinch. I don’t recommend it, however, as that will totally change the flavor profile of this meal. The spices have been chosen on purpose and tested for balance of flavor.
This easy recipe comes together in about 30 minutes. The only special technique is blooming the spices. All that means is that you will add your spices to the meat and vegetable mixture right before you add the tomatoes. Stirring the spices through the beef and cooking oil will release oil soluble compounds in the spices, unleashing their full flavors. Only bloom the spices for about 10 to 20 seconds before you add the tomatoes though. You don’t want your spice mix to burn.
Only very basic equipment is needed for this delicious soup. The only specialty piece of equipment is a 6 quart enameled Dutch oven. I love enameled cast iron for soup because of its great heat retention and easy to clean surface. You can, however, use any heavy-bottomed pot.
Storing Your Soup
Taco soup can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. I imagine it can also be frozen once cooked, but I have not tested this. It has never survived my ravenous family long enough to make it into the freezer.
I can’t wait for you to make this recipe! Please tag me on social media @at_home_test_cook and leave a comment telling me about your creation!
- 1 6 quart pot or larger preferably an enameled Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot.
- 1 TBSP chili powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder not garlic salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
For the Soup
- 3 whole carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8 slices on the bias (diagonal). about 1 cup
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced Any color works. Use your favorite!
- 1 lb ground beef I use 85% lean
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 2 cups beef stock Any stock, or even water, would work.
- sour cream
- grated cheddar cheese
- avocado slices optional
- Combine all of the ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl. Stir together.
- Preheat a fairly large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
- Add sliced carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they start to soften.
- Add the diced onion and bell pepper, cook until the onion is translucent.
- Add 1 pound ground beef, and cook until browned, breaking it into crumbles with a spoon or spatula.
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Have your tomatoes at the ready, and add the spice mix. Stir until fragrant, about 20 seconds. This blooms the spices, resulting in deeper flavor.
- Add the can of tomatoes and beef stock and stir.
- Add the drained black beans and the corn kernels.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Serve with sour cream, Fritos, cheese, and any other garnishes.
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