Zesty Taco Soup

Clearly we are in need of a little spice during this super chilly winter season. For those of you who don’t know….the high for today in my neck of the woods (Flathead Valley, Montana) is around 1 degree (not including any wind chill factors). This varies greatly from town to town. School was canceled today for my friends, just south about 17 miles because it was so windy that the cold was unbearable this morning.

Yesterday I posted a lovely, cheesy Mexican casserole & today for dinner, as requested by my 12 year old so, I’m making a crock pot full of my Zesty Taco Soup. This recipe was developed last fall when I started pulling things out to prepare my sister’s Chicken Tortilla Soup, then realized that I had no chicken breasts…or thighs (my backup)…only ground turkey. I looked at the recipe, compared it to my Turkey Chili recipe, made a few notes & tweaks & there we were!

*I will warn you by saying that I am a crock pot addict. I am a busy gal who never has enough time for anything, AND I love to cook. The crock pot has saved my life! It allows me to prepare homemade soups, sauces, casseroles, even some desserts on days when I just wouldn’t otherwise have the time. If you don’t have one get one. And please don’t waste your time or money on a cute little one that barely fits a couple cans of soup in it. Seriously, what are you going to make in there anyway? Spend a little more & buy the big one. Even if you live alone, & here’s why…most crock pot recipes are made for the big pots (& if they’re not, it’s easier to multiply a recipe than divide a recipe!). Make more & freeze it or can it, or give it away. Especially if it’s soup or sauce! Soups & sauces freeze & reheat REALLY well. You just need to pour it into smaller containers so that it cools quickly, then put it into labeled freezer bags with the date on it. Most stuff you can keep in the freezer for a year, sometimes more. Look it up online if you’re unsure. Stepping off of my soapbox now…*     

Onto the yummies…

1 package Ground Turkey          1 can Black Beans          1 can Kidney Beans          1 can White Beans              2 cans diced Green Chilies                1 can diced tomatoes with chilies          1 yellow onion diced                    64 oz chicken sock                            1-2 packets (to taste) taco seasoning          1 can tomato sauce          1 cup frozen corn                                    (optional) avocado, green onion, & sour cream to garnish                           *I try to get hormone free turkey & organic canned goods & produce as much as possible. Retailers like Costco are excellent about prices when it comes to organic canned beans, tomato sauces, & chicken stock, I highly recommend you price compare if you haven’t already. We are on a tight budget in my home, but I have found that retailers like Costco are really doing their part to keep cost down on organic products when possible.*

Turn the crock pot onto HIGH. Put in the ground turkey. You can put it in right from frozen as long as it’s going to be cooking for at least 6-7 hours total. (Usually 1 package is about 1.25-1.3 lbs, that’s what I use. For me the beans are the star, if you like more meat, feel free to add more.)  Once the heat has started to move through the pot, add the onions, corn, & taco seasoning.

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Next, add your chilies & tomatoes w/chilies to the pot. Stir.

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While the onions & meat begin to cook a bit, it’s time to prepare the beans. Most people don’t realize that canned beans need to be prepared, especially if they’re organic…wrongo bongo!

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Canned beans don’t need to be pre-cooked, but they do need to be rinsed! They are sitting in this lovely sodium-filled goo which keeps them a wonderful consistency when canned, otherwise they would turn to mush. We don’t want to eat the goo, however, & many people do. It is a preservative that isn’t good for us, it is meant to be discarded, not ingested. Please rinse your beans!

I have chosen Black beans, Kidney Beans, & Garbanzo Beans. Garbanzos, mostly because I am out of other white beans & I enjoy have tricolor beans in soups, but also because I  have children & all children like Garbanzos because they look like butts! Sorry, but it’s true! Little beige bottoms floating in your bowls is funny & they will eat them!

Once they are rinsed, add the beans to your pot. Stir.

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Now that all of our solids are in & starting to cook, we can add our liquids. Usually I use homemade chicken stock, but this soup has so much flavor all ready, that it almost would be a waste. I use organic store bought chicken stock, & 1 can or tomato sauce. This fills the pot. Stir it up good. Put the lid on & Set the timer for 5 hours if the turkey was fresh or 7 hours if it was frozen.

I like a little dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of cheese on top & green onions &/or avocados. Serve it with tortilla chips to dip.

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Have a wonderful afternoon & keep warm!

~P

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