As fall rolls in and the leaves begin to change to hues of orange, yellow and red, the cold weather is not far behind. Though Southern California does not get remotely as cold as the years I spent in the Midwest, the relative change still entices residents of The Golden State to dawn boots and coats that would seem more appropriate for temperatures far below 60 degrees. No matter where you live, nonetheless, the meteorological change rings in the season for warm soups. Not to say that a bowl of soup is less delicious in the warmer seasons, but there is something about curling up with a bowl of steaming soup on a cold, gloomy day to warm you from the inside out.
Mom’s Chicken Taco Soup
I have always enjoyed this soup topped with Mexican-style shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips and a little fresh cilantro. Diced avocado, red onion or a dollop of sour cream also provide a fresh, cool contrast to the warm soup. This soup may even be better the next day, as it will thicken up after cooling.
- 3 pounds chicken thighs, boneless and skinless with fat removed
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 30 ounces chicken broth
- 30 ounces refried beans
- 15 ounces black beans, undrained
- 15 ounces pinto beans, undrained
- 15 ounces diced tomatoes, canned
- 2 packages taco seasoning
Place chicken thighs, water and salt into a deep saucepan and cook on medium-high heat until chicken if fully cooked and tender. Remove chicken from the water (reserve the stock) and set chicken aside in a bowl to cool. Skim the fat off the top of the chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium and add the refried beans, stirring until smooth. Add the black and pinto beans, being sure not to drain them. In a food processor or with an immersion blender, purée the diced tomatoes. This step can be omitted if you would prefer bits of tomato in the soup. Stir in the taco seasoning. The chicken should be cool enough to dice now. Cut into bite size pieces and add to the soup. Cook on medium-low heat until it is time to serve. Provide plenty of the toppings described above to adorn your bowl.