Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chicken (or Ground Beef) Taco Soup


The below recipe was a favorite of mine prior to switching to a real foods, traditional diet.  I made a few tweaks, and now it fits the bill as something you can feel good about feeding your family.  The best part are the fresh toppings that you can heap on top!  Enjoy.

Chicken Taco Soup
Makes about 5-6 servings (considering it's so yummy you will probably eat a lot of it at each sitting!).
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (16 ounce) can kidney or white beans, rinsed and drained**
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained**
  • 1 ¾ cups frozen corn
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (undrained) or 3 cups diced, peeled, fresh tomatoes
  • 3-4 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • ¾ cup shredded/diced, cooked chicken
Toppings: tortilla chips, cilantro, fresh-squeezed lime juice, shredded cabbage, sour cream, cheddar cheese, sliced avocados, green onions, etc.

Saut√© onions and garlic in a little butter until aromatic and just softened.  Add beans, corn, chicken stock, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and chicken.  Simmer for about ½ hour.  Serve warm with toppings.


** Regarding canned beans: I keep a few cans of canned beans in the pantry for last-minute dinner emergencies; however, I usually try to cook my own from dried beans and keep a stash in the freezer to use in recipes instead.  Why not use canned beans?  First, they are more expensive and usually have added salt and sometimes preservatives.  Secondly, beans are most digestible (if you know what I mean!) when they are soaked for a long period of time in an acidic medium or a little baking soda prior to being cooked, and most canned beans do not go through this long soaking process.  Lastly, most canned beans (except for Eden Organics brand and maybe a couple others) are in cans lined with BPA.  Yes, BPA - that nasty hormone-disrupting chemical in certain plastics that everyone's afraid of nowadays.  People are very concerned with using BPA-free plastic containers and water bottles, yet our primary exposure actually comes from leaching from the linings of canned foods.  Last I checked, it's impossible to buy canned tomatoes, for example, without BPA (if you can get Pomi brand tomatoes in tetra packs, these are a good alternative I have found).  I have gotten pretty creative in trying to minimize our exposure to BPA as a result, and considering all of the other benefits, I really try to do this with beans especially.

So, your options for this recipe would be to substitute 3&1/3 cups of precooked black, kidney, pinto, white chili, etc., beans for the 2 cans of beans listed above.

OR

Try this Slow Cooker Modification:

Soak 1&1/3 cups of dry beans: your choice of black, kidney, pinto, white chili, etc. in a glass or ceramic bowl in plenty of luke-warm water with a couple tablespoons of an acidic medium (such as liquid whey, lemon juice, or raw apple cider vinegar) and/or a pinch of aluminum-free baking soda.  Soak for at least 12 hours, as long as 24 or 36 hours.  I find that 12 hours is not quite enough to prevent indigestion, so 24 or more hours is what I find to work best.

Rinse beans well after soaking.  Combine beans, onion, garlic, corn, chicken stock, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and chicken in slow cooker.  I would also suggest adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain water or extra stock to allow for some of the liquid to cook off and absorb into the beans.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until beans are tender.  Serve warm with plenty of toppings.

If you really like this soup - try making a double batch and freezing leftovers in wide-mouth quart mason jars in the freezer.  Just be sure to allow at least 1/2 an inch of head space to allow for expansion once frozen.  Don't use regular mouth jars - the necks are too narrow and they will crack once frozen.

Update 12/28/12 - Ground Beef Modification:

This  recipe is still a favorite in our house.  It is my go-to chili recipe, except I never got the idea before to heap all the wonderful fresh toppings on top of my chili (except for just plain cheese and sour cream if you like that sort of thing).  I find now that I always make a double batch in the slow cooker using dried beans.  I have also started substituting about 1 pound (or close to 2 pounds, for a double batch) of hamburger meat for the chicken.  We buy 1/4 steer at least once per year, and we always have plenty of hamburger on hand.  I love hamburger in a slow-cooked stew or chili such as this as it greatly tenderizes the texture, and this is a fabulous way to use some of it up.  I just brown the hamburger meat with the onions and garlic and about half of the taco seasoning and then add it to the slow cooker with all the other ingredients.  After eating our fill for dinner and lunches over the next couple of days, I usually end up with at least 2 or 3 quarts to freeze and thaw for easy dinners later.  I just love this recipe!

3 comments:

  1. So, sitting and reading this at 5 in the morning and thinking how I'd love to try this. Once I'm awake! Sounds great and looks really easy.

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  2. Two questions:

    I'm sure that taco seasoning might include some questionable elements. Do you have a special seasoning you use?

    What toppings do you recommend? Your picture looks to have avocado and chips. What kind of chips are those anyway?

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  3. Thank you for your questions Steve - I just put up two posts - one for the taco seasoning and one for the chips. The recipe has a "toppings" blurb up in the ingredients for my other recommended toppings.

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