M and B were the couple who offered us counsel as we began preparing to get married. B was Husband’s college pastor, so it made sense for us to ask a person who knew him so well to give us sound advice before marriage.
The first time we met them was via Skype, to chat about some questionnaires that Husband and I had taken. I was excited to meet them, but a bit nervous. Over the following months, we skyped at least twice a month about different readings and questionnaires we were doing – the months were long because of new jobs and wedding planning, but we still managed to feel pretty energized after every conversation. Knowing them so well also made the day before and the day of our wedding so much more personal and comforting.
I decided to make M and B’s Taco Soup recipe for a girl’s night I attended. Girls night to me is a chance to actually talk as much as I want – with Husband, he often is so direct and to-the-point that our conversations are short, even if very sweet. Girls night in this case was also Mexican-themed, which meant delicious guacamole. We were making crafts, and chatting, and meeting a friends’ one-month-old baby who was just the snuggliest little dude. It seemed like the perfect audience to try my soup-making skills on.
I made the soup rather easily – I wonder if this is because this soup is ridiculously easy to make (this is definitely true) or because I’m actually getting more comfortable in the kitchen. Either way, all the muscle needed in this recipe was summed up in cutting the onions, opening the ground beef wrapper, and twisting the can opener on 5 cans. (I dropped the pinto and kidney beans in favor of one can of black beans – still taco-appropriate and one of my favorite kinds of beans). Otherwise, the powdered dressing and seasoning mixes meant that I got a soulful soup with no guesswork; Husband said he would like it spicier but I think I’d probably accomplish that by just grabbing the “hot” rather than the “regular” taco seasoning packet.
I wasn’t sure how it would go over with the Girl’s Night crew; they are all great cooks and I’ve been learning tips from them for the past few months. Still, when I mentioned taco soup, the host’s sister said, “wait, is that the one with the taco seasoning and the ranch dressing?” and when I said yes, she was excited: “That soup is so good!” As we all discussed recipes that evening, we realized that some recipes are kinda like chain letters – passed from one cook to another, sometimes as little shortcuts or as ways to make veggies palatable for kids, and even though I’d never met the host’s sister before, we had something in common instantly because we’d interacted with the recipe.
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 package taco seasoning
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
Brown. drain fat.
Do not drain vegetables. Add:
1 can pinto beans
1 can hominy or corn
1 can red kidney beans
1 can diced Rotel tomatoes
2 cans chopped tomatoes.
Simmer 45-60 minutes.