Thursday, February 24, 2011

Taco Soup, version 2

I have gradually been converting our canned bean recipes to dried beans.  There are several reasons for this.  First, dried beans are cheaper than canned.  Canned beans are a great for the budget, but considering you can get the equivalent of 4 cans of beans from one pound of dried beans for less than the cost of 2 cans of beans, dried beans are even better for the budget.  Personally, I use the savings to buy organic dried beans from the bulk section of our local Whole Foods (it doesn't have to be expensive to shop there).  Secondly, by using dried beans, I control the amount of salt that goes into our food.  Thirdly, we avoid cans coated with BPA.

My goal was to convert the previous version of Taco Soup, but have inadvertently ended up with a whole new version that has received thumbs up from around our table.  So, I'm inclined to not mess with it too much more.  It's taken me a while to post this recipe because I kept mental notes of what I was doing, got caught up with life around here and didn't write it down, and then I had to make it again to refresh my memory.  This happened several times over a few months.  However, I think I have it down now, committed to memory.  At the encouragement of my sister, I made it again this week just to be sure so that I could post it.  I had to laugh late last week when she e-mailed me and asked me to convert the previous version to dried beans - I hadn't mentioned this project to her.  So, Karen, this is especially for you!

This does take a while to cook.  I cook it on low for about 16 hours.  You could also cook it on high for 8 hours.  This gives the beans plenty of time to soften.  Also, you can add the additional ingredients whenever you'd like once you start cooking the beans.  However, I've read that adding the salt too soon lengthens the amount of time it takes for the beans to soften, so I would at least save the salt for later.  Speaking of salt, please adjust as necessary for your palate.  We have gradually been reducing our intake of processed foods (even canned) and have become used to less salt in our food.  Therefore, my recipes tend to not be as salty as most are used to.  I am not the least bit offended by someone who picks up the salt grinder to adjust for this.

Taco Soup

2 lbs Dried Beans (combo of pinto, black, and kidney)
2 Portabella Mushroom, finely chopped
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 28oz can Diced Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1 Tbsp. Cumin
Taco or Southwestern Seasoning mix, equivalent to what you would use for 2 lbs ground meat for tacos
1-2 tsp Kosher Salt

Sort, rinse, and soak dried beans in water all day (I do this in my 7 qt crockpot.  I put the rinsed beans in the crockpot and fill it nearly full with water).

Drain and rinse beans and put them in crockpot.  Fill crockpot 3/4 full with water and cook overnight on low.

Cook onion, mushrooms, and garlic on stove until cooked through and crumbly.  Pour mixture into crockpot with the beans.

In the morning, add meat mixture and all other ingredients to the crockpot and continue to cook on low all day.  Soup will be ready for dinner.

Serving ideas:
  1. Top with shredded cheese and/or crushed tortilla chips (great for crumbs at the bottom of the bag).
  2. Serve over brown rice and topped with shredded cheese.
  3. Use as taco and/or burrito filling.
  4. Use as a topping for nachos.
This makes plenty of soup for a large crowd or to put away for future meals.  Our family had it for dinner the other night, my husband and I are having it for lunch today, and I put a couple of lunch servings away in the freezer for future use (it's so easy to grab a cup of soup from the freezer and put it in a lunch box for work - saves money and it's healthier than eating out).

Powercooking Tip:  When cooking the meat, I used 2 lbs ground bison, 2-3 large portabello caps, 2 onions, and 4 cloves garlic.  I used one quarter of the mix for the soup and put away 2-3 containers in the freezer for future use in soups or pasta sauces.  Cook once, use several times.  Love the time savings!

Meatless Mondays:  Replace the meat, but use the onion, garlic, and portabella to make it a vegetarian dish.

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