Sunday, August 7, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Taco Soup

Food prices are rising, and for many (myself included), this means a major change in shopping and cooking habits.  We have slowly but surely been buying cheaper, more filling products and reducing the amount of processed food we consume.  Along this path of change came the cooking of dried beans.

I've been given dried beans before - they are a staple at food pantries.  But I never knew what to do with them!  Usually the bag would sit in my pantry until I finally tried to cook it, but once I had the beans reconstituted, they tasted so bland that I couldn't eat them, and they would end up being thrown out.

Then along came this wonderful thing called the world wide web...and the discovery of multitudes of fantastic cooking blogs.  One of my favorites is "Bored Cook in the Kitchen", and she has a wonderful recipe for taco soup.

The first time I made her recipe, I followed the directions exactly.  I discovered that there were a few changes I wanted to make - for example, no one in my family enjoyed the broth of the dish.  My husband commented that it would have been perfect if the broth had been based off chicken stock rather than water.  I replied that replacing the beef with chicken would add a lighter texture.  The second time I made it, everyone declared it perfect - and it's been a staple in our menu since.

Taco Soup
2 cups shredded chicken
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1 can of corn, drained
1 1/2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dressing 
1 packet Goya Sazon (in the orange box)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker, set on high (to cook for 4-5 hours) or low (to cook for 6-7 hours).  Creates around 6 servings.

Of course, if you garden, you can add your own produce, such as fresh sweet corn or peppers.  I like to top my soup off with shredded cheddar, sour cream, and crumbled tortilla chips, but that significantly increases the cost per meal, so keep that in mind...however, for me, I do tend to always have cheese and sour cream on hand for other recipes, so this does give me a chance to use up more of the product before it expires.

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