Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Foodie - Taco Soup

Friday Foodie

Taco Soup

Flavor: spicy with a hint of salty

Texture: substantial soft chunks with contrasting crunch

Satisfaction: in the cold of winter, this treat fills the stomach and takes the chill right out of your body

Ingredients: ground beef (or sausage), taco seasoning package, ranch dressing package, can pinto beans, can hominy, can diced Mexcian stewed tomatoes, can green chilies, onion, grated cheese, tortilla chips

Discussion: The first time I was exposed to taco soup was at an office meal. We had a monthly birthday luncheon and the food was pot-luck. On the cold, rainy, winter day, the soup hit just the right spot and has been on of my favorite winter foods since. I look forward to a cold spell so I can break out this incredibly simple and fast recipe. It is one of the dishes that is as hearty and satisfying with or without the meat.

To begin, brown the meat if you choose, then add some diced onion until they are translucent. Add the package of taco seasoning spice and package of ranch dressing mix and stir together until the meat is covered. Then simply add the can of pinto beans (with jalapenos), can of hominy, can of diced tomatoes, and can of green chilies with the juices from the cans. You may need to add one can of water, but generally do not. Heat all thoroughly over medium heat.

While that is simmering, I dice some more onion, grate the cheese, and crush tortilla chips for serving the meal.

In serving the soup, I place a layer of crushed tortilla chips on the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top. Then I will add some more tortilla chips on the top of the soup with cheese and diced onion.

Some variations I make include using two cans of pinto beans (or pinto beans I had made previously and frozen) instead of meat; using one can of white and one can of yellow hominy for the variety of color; or adding a can of tomato sauce to give it a sharper, more tomatoey flavor.

Taco soup makes a sizable dish any time you make it and it can easily be expanded to make more – just at more cans. As with many dishes with so many flavors, I always find it to be better on the second and third days, so I look forward to the extended cold spells when I know I’m going to look forward to a warm, very flavorful dish that I’ll enjoy having for several days. This is on of the dishes I never get tired of having in left-overs.

Have a good week with lots of good food!

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