Taco soup is known for being a quick meal to throw together. Most people make it by dumping some canned goods into a pot with some meat and spices. I’m all for a quick meal, but I do mine a little different than most people.
And the best part is it’s even cheaper than the can-dump version. And better for you too!
But money and health aren’t the actual reasons why I started doing my taco soup like this. The main reason is that canned beans have a tendency to gross me out. I’m just not a big fan of that slimy liquid that accompanies canned beans.
If you’ve never cooked dry beans before you’ll notice that the price difference is pretty significant. Canned beans are actually pretty expensive for what they are. Dry beans are super cheap, especially when you buy them in bulk. Cooking your own dry beans is as easy as can be. I do it in my crock pot like this. The best part is there’s no yucky slime!
The only drawback with cooking your own beans is that it takes time. But don’t worry, I’ve figured that one out too. I cook beans in big batches, then freeze them in the quantities that I will be using. When I have menu planned, I grab them out of the freezer in the morning to thaw. When I’m flying by the seat of my pants (which is not uncommon around here), I just toss the frozen chunk of beans in the pot where it will thaw in no time.
We usually eat beans on the day that I cook them, since they’re already warm. On the day I took these pictures, I had just cooked a big ol’ crock pot of pinto beans. I added some warm pinto beans to our taco soup and froze the rest of the pinto beans for future convenience. As you can see in the picture, the black beans are curiously shaped as if they were frozen in a quart-size ziplock bag. They were.
Another way to keep the cost super low is to not add meat. With beans, you’re getting lots of protein (fiber and antioxidants, too), so save the meat for another meal and make this one meatless and super frugal.
I will tell you how to make my taco soup, but won’t give a taco soup “recipe” since I don’t use one. And trust me, you can’t mess this one up even if you try!
- pinto beans
- black beans
- frozen corn
- tomato puree (You can read about how and why we bottle our tomatoes like this)
- dehydrated onion (Of course fresh is fine, but dehydrated is faster and tear-free.)
- taco seasoning (It is TACO soup, after all)
- other seasonings to taste (salt, garlic, cumin, etc)
Put it all in a pot and heat until hot. Add additional seasonings to taste.
See– I told you it was easy.
To serve, I like to add some cheese and sour cream. Cheese takes everything up a notch, though it would be more frugal without it. If we have tortilla chips around, we break them out for taco soup. Cornbread is another good option.
There you have it! Taco soup that is still quick and easy, only it’s cheaper and healthier than the can version!
How about you?
- What frugal meals to you make with beans?
This is one of our favorite go-to dinners and since there are only two of us, I freeze the leftovers flat in gallon size freezer bags and only have to make the soup every three weeks instead of weekly. I’m cleaning out my freezer this week so will have room to cook and freeze beans and then freeze the soup when it goes on our weekly menu. My daughter would eat this several times a week — which is why I freeze the leftovers! 🙂
This has been a staple in our dinner rotation for the past 11 years! I love it and end up dumping fridge leftovers in it too if we have rice or meat leftover! Sometimes I‘ll add salsa or green chilies for flavor. If I’m making cornbread, I’ll use some of the cornmeal to thicken the soup and add a good flavor! I love that it’s so versatile!y husband will spice it up a little with jalapeños from the garden or hot sauce
I love your take on Taco soup. It looks refreshing and good for you, too. It’s the perfect comfort food this season!
We made this tonight and it was so delicious. Thank you so much for a great frugal recipe.
I like this frugal bean recipe. Like Jennifer, I have always struggled with cooking dry beans but I’m both a broke graduate student and a vegetarian so this recipe might just the incentive I need to try again. Thank you for sharing how you make it.
Sounds like you need beans in your life right now! 🙂
Money Beagle says
We make something similar, ours is called tortilla soup. I think really any Mexican based soup along the same lines is pretty much guaranteed to end up being delicious!
I just started cooking dry beans in my crock pot fairly recently. I tried it years ago and they never got soft so I gave up have since learned how to do it.I love this recipe, so versatile. I think we cook with similar ideas. No recipe is set in stone and I really don’t like to use recipes that I can’t tweak to whatever I have laying around in my cupboard. Love the bottom pic with the plop of yummy sour cream!
Yes! I have a hard time sticking to a recipe because I want to use what I have on hand. I’m glad you figured beans out. I’ve had better luck with the crock pot than the pressure cooker with beans.
Chris Heuermann says
I just started really cooking dry beans within the past year…oh my goodness! Why did I wait so long. They taste better and I too also freeze them in portions I will use later. The interesting thing for me was that when I take beans to pot lucks, most people want to know what brand they are…I tell them CMH brand. Lol! That’s my initals…thanks for your blog, it is s very encouraging for me to read…
CMH brand! That’s a good one! 🙂