02 October, 2011

In the Kitchen: Taco Soup

Fall is upon us in full force! I don't know what it's like where you live, but last night it dropped to 39 degrees in this neck of the woods. Here at Bungalow 312, I have decided to celebrate by making a vat of soup. And before sharing today's recipe, Scooter and I have some very strong opinions on the subject matter of soup, which we would like to share here:
  1. Soup is best made in vat quantities. Making any less is a colossal waste of time and energy.
  2. Soup is one food I can eat as leftovers for an entire week without getting sick of. If I do get sick of it, it freezes well, so there is no point in making less than a vat. (See #1.)
  3. Contrary to the opinion of Uncle Steve, soup should never, ever have chicken or turkey feet as an ingredient. The only exception to this rule is if you are going to starve, I mean literally die of starvation, and the only thing you have on hand is water and chicken/turkey feet. Then maybe it would be okay to make soup out of that.
  4. Pickling spice, extremely thin noodles, and celery salt are essential ingredients to make Chicken Noodle Soup with a capital C, N, and S. There are dozens of good versions of chicken noodle soup, but they are not my Grandma Gerger's, so they cannot be called Chicken Noodle Soup.
  5. The best Chicken Noodle Soup is made with extremely thin homemade noodles. Grandma used to make the dough, roll it out into a nearly paper-thin sheet, and cut it into strips with a knife to make very thin, flat noodles. Aunt Irene, if you feel so inclined to give me a box of these for Christmas this year, you will be handsomely rewarded with something handknit.
  6. White chili is better than red chili.
  7. Ground venison makes good red chili. Every November, when deer hunting season begins, I tell History Teacher Brian that if he manages to shoot a deer, I would be happy to take some ground venison off his hands and make some chili with it and bring it to school for our lunches. He has yet to deliver. Hmmm.
  8. Potato soup is yummy, but not the potato soup with the eggs in it that my dad made when I was growing up. To quote the Small Children, "Boo! Yucky!"
  9. Ever since the Great and Terrible Beef Stew Revolt of my childhood, I still cannot be convinced to eat beef stew. One of my fears is that I will be invited to a dinner party and have to eat it in order to be polite.
  10. In the fall and winter, nothing beats soup for dinner or for lunch. Nothing.
Today, I am not making Chicken Noodle Soup. Nor potato soup, nor white chili, nor red venison chili, nor soup with chicken/turkey feet (thank God I am not dieing of starvation). And of course, no beef stew.

Taco Soup
Adapted from Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup chopped red onion
1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1-ounce) package Ranch dressing mix
2 (15.25-ounce) cans whole kernel corn, undrained
1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.25-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 (12-ounce) beer*
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Toppings: Shredded Cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese, blue corn tortilla chips

Cook beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Combine meat mixture and remaining ingredients except for toppings in a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 5 to 6 hours. Serve with toppings.

Makes about 16 cups.

*Original recipe calls for light beer. I never use light beer. Use Mexican beer if you have it on hand, or if not, a lighter-tasting (though not necessarily light) ale or lager will do.

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