Welcome to the second edition of a new feature this year, Frugal Friday (alternating with Fun-Food Friday and Five-Ingredient Friday). This Taco Soup recipe proves that frugal does not mean flavorless! And, my version of this soup will feed four-six for under $9.00 without using pre-packaged seasoning mixes.
There are so many versions of this soup out there, with two common elements: They use a package of taco seasoning mix and a package of a popular salad dressing mix. While that is convenient, those little packages are pricey and they are a single-use item. We won’t even talk about the soy fillers, MSG, high sodium and other things they contain.
Many people have commented to me that spices are expensive, and they can be. But with wise shopping and a little investment for some bottled spices for your pantry, you can save a great deal of money in the long run, as well as provide fabulous flavor to your foods without relying on what are marketed as convenience items.
My local market sells their own label of spices and seasonings. Those containers are 7 ounces and cost around $3.99. But even buying the typical 1.5 – 2.5 ounce jar of spice at a large chain grocery saves you money (a little bit goes a long way) and you are controlling what goes into your food.
This recipe uses a combination of three different bottled spices/herbs, but it only uses a small amount of each. I’m estimating the total cost of those for this recipe at $1.00. That’s probably on the high end.
Another way to save money, as well as to cut the fat in your food and save time, is to use the fat generated from browning ground beef to saute your onion and garlic. Instead of adding oil to the pan and sautéing the onion and garlic, add them to the ground beef and cook them at the same time. We don’t eat a lot of beef, since we have access to venison (which is very lean), even then there is enough fat to cook the onions and garlic without adding additional oil. I’ll often put a lid on the pan when browning my meat to help steam the onion and garlic further while the meat browns.
If you’re using a high fat content beef, you will want to drain off excess fat before continuing to add other ingredients. In addition to the beef, onion and garlic, I’ve used 2 -10 ounce cans of tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel brand), a 15 ounce can of black beans, 2 cups of frozen corn kernels, chili powder, cumin, dry cilantro, salt and pepper. Since I like my taco soup tomato-y, I added a cup of tomato juice,which is optional, instead of water. I garnished the soup with a bit of grated cheddar cheese, which is also optional.
Here’s a breakdown of the estimated cost:
- 2 cloves garlic .05
- 1 small onion .20
- 1 pound ground beef 3.49
- 2-10 oz cans tomato w/ green chilies 1.45
- 1-15 oz can black beans .85
- 2 cups frozen corn kernels .50
- herbs/spices 1.00
- 1 cup tomato juice .50
- 1 ounce cheddar cheese .37
Total with optional ingredients: $8.41 Cost per serving: $2.10/4 or $1.40/6
This is definitely a budget-friendly soup! And it is so tasty, too! While winter is still with us, this simple, quick, delicious recipe is perfect to warm your hungry horde from the inside out. Do, try it!
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 -10 ounce cans diced tomatoes w/green chilies (including liquid)
- 1 -15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon dry cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup water (or 1 cup tomato juice-optional) I like my taco soup a bit thicker, but you can add additional water if you like a thinner soup.
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Optional toppings: grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole, served with corn chips.
- In a medium-sized sauce pan, over medium heat, add the ground meat, garlic and onion.
- Break up the meat and cook until the meat is browned and the garlic and onion are tender. If you have excess fat, drain this off before proceeding.
- Add the tomatoes w/chilies (as well as the liquid), the black beans, corn, cilantro, chili powder and cumin, as well as the water (or tomato juice).
- Add salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Serve in bowls with desired toppings.