Let’s not lie. This is not soup. However, in the comments to the original blog post on which I found this, namely on Ezra Pound Cake’s site, I found out that it also goes by another name which equally fails to describe it: Frito Pie. It isn’t pie, either. What it is, essentially, is chili. It does have this one distinguishing feature – not to say that it doesn’t stand out by its taste or anything, it’s delicious, but it tastes like another variation on the theme of chili – and that is that instead of maybe garnishing it with tortilla chips, or scooping it up with them as we’re wont to do in my family, you serve it on a bed of Fritos. Or, in our case, broken-up bits of regular tortilla chips from the bottom of the bag.
Oh my wordy word. Why had no one thought of this before?!? (The South: “AHEM.”) Ok, so clearly someone has thought of it before, but to paraphrase an old VICE Do-and-Don’t entry, you know something’s good when it makes you mad at everyone else for not thinking of it sooner. It doesn’t matter that it’s been going on for donkey’s years and just nobody told me. This is going to be my preferred method of consuming chili from now on.
This particular chili? Well, it’s good. I’m not going to throw over my existing recipe for it, but I do like the addition of corn, although I can’t say I’m going to make that addition to my normal chili – I don’t think Matt prefers to have it in. I was going to cook it in our slow cooker, at first, but I made it when a friend was over, and we spent the whole day doing the BARCC Walk for Change – for which I have a (still-active!) fundraising page through the website that I work for. Which, P.S., you should all also make fundraising pages for your own favourite charities. You’re welcome, work! ANYWAY, we did that, and then we went back to my friend’s alma mater, which is here, and she gave me a tour of the place. And we also snuck into their library – thrill! And because of all this, I wasn’t able to start the chili early, so I just made it in a pot.
And I halved it and there were 3 of us and we still had leftovers. So there. In the course of doing so, though, I had to make some changes – I don’t like having to use half a can of something, so I improvised with the un-canned counterparts and whatnot. So the amounts here are the amounts I made up based loosely on halving the original recipe. And I added some water, because I didn’t think the tomatoes were going to express enough liquid, and I don’t know if I was right or not but even the small amount of water I added cooked down nearly completely. So I’d recommend it.
“Taco Soup” Chili
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 15-oz can black beans
1/2 cup dry pink beans, soaked overnight (or all day, in my case) and drained
1 8-oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1 4.5-oz can chopped green chilis
1/2 an envelope taco seasoning
1/2 an envelope ranch seasoning
chipotle powder (for smokiness)
1/4 cup water
Fritos or broken tortilla chips to serve over, plus more chips for garnishing (or eating with, in my family’s case)
sharp cheddar cheese, grated, to garnish
green onions, chopped, also to garnish
Brown beef with onions in a large skillet over medium heat.
Transfer to a large dutch oven, using a slotted spoon to drain while you transfer (multitasking!). You’d think I’d just say to brown the meat in the dutch oven from the get-go, and it’s true that way you can get more fond in your life, but you wouldn’t get to drain it in the slotted spoon, and the whole tilting a heavy pot and trying to pour out the grease without pouring out the actual food thing is miserable. So do it this way, it’s easier.
Add everything else except the garnishes (which, to recap, are the chips, cheese, and green onions… don’t add those, add everything else).
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or longer, depending on what your schedule looks like, stirring every now and again.
Put some Fritos (or broken tortilla chip bits) in the bottoms of the bowls you’re going to eat from.
At any point after the 30 minute mark, if you feel like eating and can’t take the delicious smell anymore, serve the taco soup into the bowls over the wee chips.
Garnish with grated cheese, green onions, and regular-sized tortilla chips.
You may not need to add the water – the tomatoes and onions do emit moisture after all – but by the next day, the leftovers had just the perfect amount of sauciness, so I guess it depends if you’re planning on eating some the next day. I mean, it is chili, so, like all chilis and stews, it tastes even better the next day. This is an immutable law of the universe!