If this winter is as cold as predicted, my soup pot is going to get a workout.
My files are packed with soup and stew recipes, and this week's recipe for taco stew has been waiting in the wings for a winter such as this.
Passed along by my friend Martha Long, this hearty combination of ground beef, chopped onion and green bell pepper, kidney and pinto beans, hominy and Mexicorn seasoned with packets of taco seasoning, powdered ranch dressing mix and chili powder is the perfect cold-weather warmup.
Martha calls it a soup, but I think it's more of a stew since the only liquid comes from the undrained cans of beans and corn. She says the stew doesn't even require spoons. Simply serve with a bowl of tortilla or corn chips to scoop the stew from bowl to mouth.
Similar recipes often include canned rotel tomatoes (tomatoes spiked with chilies) or diced canned tomatoes. And, if you'd like your stew to be more of a soup, go ahead and add a can or two of either. Or add a 16-ounce can of tomato juice.
Don't forget about those handy frozen chopped onions and green bell peppers in your grocer's freezer section when preparing the stew. They'll save you about 10 minutes at the cutting board, and frozen green peppers are less expensive than fresh this time of year.
This soup relies heavily on seasoning mixes, both taco and ranch dressing mix. Both ingredients are high in sodium, and most people on sodium-restricted diets are told to avoid such products. Reduce the sodium in the soup by omitting the seasoning packets. Then increase the chili powder to 2 teaspoons, and add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon ground cumin when the recipe calls for the seasoning packets. Season lightly with salt or salt substitute.
Besides the corn chips, serve the stew with a fruit salad of bottled grapefruit and orange segments, red grapes and sliced kiwi.
1 pound ground round
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 bell pepper, chopped, about 1 1/2 cups
1 package taco seasoning
1 package powdered ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 16-ounce can pinto beans, undrained
1 16-ounce can kidney beans, undrained
1 11.5-ounce can Mexicorn, undrained
1 16-ounce can white hominy, drained
Tortilla or corn chips, as accompaniment
Saute the ground round in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until browned. Drain in a colander. Saute onions and bell peppers in the pan while the meat drains. Return the meat to the pan and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrient analysis provided by registered dietitians of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karin Calloway is the online chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to email@example.com.