Thursday, November 16, 2017

The best taco soup in the whole wide world

I think this is the third year the Lucas County Historical Society has prepared and served taco soup during the annual November Soup and Bread Tasting Fair fund-raiser for Lucas County Health Center Volunteer Services, held yesterday.

Volunteer Services coordinates most of the volunteers who help keep our organization afloat, especially during the May-September tourist season; this is one way we can show our appreciation. And although many of our board members help out, office manager Kathleen Dittmer is the historical society's chief cook and coordinator.

So we decided as the event was winding down last night to share the recipe --- and here it is. This is the basic recipe that serves 10. To serve more --- and we do --- just multiply it.

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 Ro-Tel tomatoes with chilis
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-ounce can water.

Brown the ground beef and onions, add the seasoning and dressing mixes and stir well, then add the rest of the ingredients, stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour (the longer it simmers the better it gets). Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and taco chips.

We serve a mild version of this soup, but you can turn the heat up by using one of the hotter varieties of Ro-Tel tomatoes with chilis and adding other seasonings. We also substitute ground turkey for some of the ground beef in order to lighten the product up a little.


If I'm counting right, nine or ten soup and bread combinations were available at yesterday's fair, In addition to our own soup, I especially liked Volunteer Services' Italian vegetarian, Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street's chicken and dumplings and Homestead Assisted Living's smothered baked potato soup. Carpenters Hall provided ice cream. Martha Milnes was on hand with her world-famous homemade Swedish rye bread (the best I've ever eaten), so I sneaked a couple of slices of that without actually sampling the broccoli-cheese soup that accompanied it.

Various organizations handle the preparations in their own ways. In some cases, volunteers prepare the soup at home, then carry it in roasters to Carpenters Hall. We divided the meat and onions among three cooks (keep in mind we're preparing to feed a couple of hundred people) --- Lucinda, Kathleen and Ann --- who prepared the meat and onion combination at home, then refrigerated it. Beans that needed it also were drained and rinsed at home.

Then Kathleen, Ann and I met at Carpenters Hall at 8 a.m. yesterday with two roasters and all of the intredients to assemble the soup. I am an accomplished opener of cans, so did that. It simmered all morning, then was ready to serve at 11 a.m.

Kathleen watched the soup throughout the day; Kay, Rex, Jim, Ann and Kathleen served it. All in all, it was a great day. Thanks to all who helped out.

From left, Kathleen, Kay and Rex.

No comments: