I'm not necessarily saying that the Lucas County Historical Society's taco soup was the best soup among 11 varieties served up for lunch and supper yesterday during the annual Soup & Bread Taste Fair at Carpenters Hall, but we did receive lots of rave reviews --- and distributed into relatively small bowls the contents of one large roaster and half of another before all was said and done.
The fair is an annual benefit for the Lucas County Health Center Volunteer Services Program, which coordinates the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who keep our county's non-profits moving forward, including the historical society. Thelma Saxton donates use of the hall --- and dessert.
That's Kylie and Jim at the top, serving during the evening. Below, Kathleen (left) was the principal cook (I was her assistant) and Kay and Rex were the noon-hour servers.
Guests paid $6 at the door, then were issued plates, three smallish bowls and a spoon. After finishing off their first rounds of soup plus bread, condiments or chips collected at three of the 11 stations, they were welcome to go back and try as many of the other varieties as they could hold. There was ice cream for desert and iced tea and water, too --- along with celery and carrot sticks.
Linda Baynes, Volunteer Services director, said Wednesday's turnout was among the best ever --- and that may have been in part a factor of the perfect soup weather outside --- chilly, windy and damp.
My second-favorite soup of the day was squash --- served by Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street. Faintly sweet with touches of nutmeg and cinnamon. But they all were great --- and I tried several.
Kathleen did the heavy lifting Wednesday. She did the shopping Tuesday, then browned the meat and onions at home. I met her at Carpenters Hall at 9 a.m. and we hauled everything inside, set up the two roasters and added the remainder of the ingredients, which simmered until the first round of serving began at 11 a.m. Kay was in charge of table decorations.
Several asked for the recipe, so here it is --- although it was multiplied several times and amounts adjusted slightly to serve well over 100 people. This also is a healthy recipe, low-fat and low-calorie --- until you add condiments. We offered shredded cheese, sour cream and taco chips.
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 package dry taco seasoning mix
1 package dry Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
1 can pinto beans with juice
1 can whole-kernel corn with juice
1 can Rotel tomatoes (with chilies)
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 can pureed tomatoes
1 can kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
1 14-ounce can water
Brown the meat and the onions, then add all of the other ingredients, mixing well. Bring to high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour. The longer this cooks --- within reason --- the better it gets.