Easy Cook: Chicken Taco Soup

“Chicken Taco Soup” is a hearty and satisfying soup to cook for a hurry-up lunch or supper meal. It is a quick recipe and doesn’t require much of effort — just open several cans — which is very nice once in awhile. I used left-over rotisserie chicken in the soup along with several canned and frozen vegetable ingredients and a packet of dry taco seasoning. That’s it; this recipe made a very tasty soup–entrée. Sometimes I will purchase a rotisserie chicken for a meal and find that about half of the chicken is left-over after we eat. Rather than let the chicken go to waste (which can easily happen), I have several recipes which make good use of the chicken. This is one such recipe. Plus, by reading the labels, I have found ways to cut down on the sodium in the soup.

“Waste-Not, Want-Not”

According to the Merriam Dictionary, “if you never waste anything, then you will always have what you want.” How simple is that, and perhaps it is partially true. With prices rising in the grocery store in current days, I have a gasp every time I look at my grocery bill. Perhaps “not wasting” food is a good thing.

And so that leads to the rotisserie chicken. It is easy to let that pricey left-over chicken set in the refrigerator for several days until it is too old to use. I have done that trick several times. The key for me is to have a plan ready for using the left-over chicken. And it means being industrious enough to carry out the plan.

A friend, Bonnie, recently treated us to supper and she served “Taco Soup” which was made with ground beef. My, it was delicious and I love the flavor combination of beef, beef bouillon and tomatoes. I have subsequently tried her ground-beef version of the soup and everybody loved it!. Bonnie served her “Taco Soup” with lots of toppings which she passed individually so that each person could add to their own toppings to their soup bowl. Here is my “chicken” version of her soup along with my topping choices.

When Bonnie shared her recipe, I realized that I had almost all the ingredients in my kitchen cabinet to make a “Chicken Taco Soup” version using my left-over rotisserie chicken. I usually have several types of canned beans and diced tomato products around. Plus, I can always find an onion and frozen corn in my kitchen. The seasoning for this soup is a packet of dried taco seasoning — that is easy enough. The soup is adaptable — substitute canned black beans for the pinto beans and/or omit the frozen corn or used canned corn. Use diced tomatoes with green chilies rather than the two individual ingredients. If you family does not like bits of tomatoes, substitute a can of tomato puree.

Homemade salt-free chicken broth

Since I was feeling industrious, I even took the rotisserie chicken carcass — after picking the meat off the bones — and used it to made homemade chicken stock. The advantage of taking this extra step is that you can make sodium-free (salt-free) stock and the flavor of the broth adds to whatever you are cooking without adding lots of salt. (I did this step the prior day.)

For this step, add onion, celery and carrot chunks to the chicken bones on the stove, adding a quart (4 cups) of water. Let this simmer for an hour.

Then strain off the liquid to make flavorful stock — discard the bones and vegetable chunks. This salt-free broth can be used in many recipes. Again, the key here is to have a plan for using the stock such as this soup recipe so that the stock doesn’t waste away in your refrigerator or freezer.

Making the recipe is so easy. My left-over rotisserie chicken yielded 2 cups of chopped chicken which was the just right amount for this recipe. Since this is “Taco Chicken Soup,” the recipe included pinto beans, green chilies and corn which added to the “flavor” of the soup.

To make the recipe, sauté the chopped onions in a little oil, then add the chopped chicken and all the remaining ingredients. I had 2-1/2 cups of homemade stock so added 1-1/2 cup additional water to yield 4 cups (1 quart) of liquid. To help cut back on salt, I located a commercial taco seasoning package with 30% less sodium. You could also use salt-free diced tomatoes. Even with reduced-sodium taco seasoning, there was plenty of salt in the dry powder — no extra salt is needed in this recipe.

Let the soup simmer on the stove for half an hour — or longer if you are busy. Get the toppings ready while the soup cooks. Then ladle the soup into serving bowls and pass the toppings separately — sour cream, ripe avocado, fresh jalapeno pepper, green onions and tortilla strips or corn chips.

My “Chicken Taco Soup” is delicious. It made for a satisfying supper. I was excited at finding a recipe which didn’t require alot of effort. Plus, I usually have most of the ingredients already on hand to make the soup.

With the inflation which we are experiencing, I am becoming much more careful with food expenses when shopping. Plus, I find that it is a good idea to have a plan ready for using perishable ingredients — such as the rotisserie chicken. I’ll add this recipe to my list of “food ideas for using chicken.” I hope you enjoy the soup recipe, too!

Chicken Taco Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, cut in chunks or other cooked chicken, chunks
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice. (For tomato doubters, may substitute 1 can tomato puree.)
  • 1 (16 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 (4 oz) can green chilies, diced
  • 1 (1 oz) package dry 30% sodium-reduced mild taco seasoning
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, cut in chunks or other cooked chicken cut in chunks
  • 4 cups (32 oz) sodium-reduced chicken broth or combination of homemade salt-free chicken broth with water to equal 4 cups
  • soup toppings:
    • avocado, peeled and cut in chunks
    • green onions and parts of green tops, sliced
    • jalapeno pepper, sliced with seeds and ribs removed
    • sour cream
    • corn chips or tortilla chips

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Heat large pot to medium heat on burner. Add oil and chopped onion. Sauté onion until translucent and soft, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add rotisserie chicken chunks and stir,
  3. Add diced tomatoes with juice, drained and rinsed pinto beans, frozen corn and green chilies to pot on stove. Stir to combine.
  4. Add sodium-reduced taco seasoning and stir in.
  5. Pour in sodium-reduced chicken broth or  homemade salt-free chicken broth and enough water to equal 4 cups. Bring soup to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Ladle soup into bowls, and pass toppings separately.
  7. NOTE: For “Beef Taco Soup” substitute 1-1/2 pound ground beef for the diced chicken. In this case, brown the beef along with the onion prior to adding the other ingredients, draining off any excess fat. Substitute beef broth or bouillon for the chicken broth.

Here is the recipe for homemade chicken stock.

Homemade Chicken Stock

  • Servings: about 3 cups stock
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1 celery stalk cut in chunks

Instructions and Steps:

  1. Remove the meat from the rotisserie chicken and reserve for another use. Add the chicken carcass to a heavy, large pot.
  2. Add 4 cups water, the onion, carrot and celery to pot. Bring pot to boil on stove. Then, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for one hour.
  3. Remove from stove. Strain broth through fine sieve, pressing down on vegetables to extract flavor and soft vegetable puree. Discard chicken carcass and remaining vegetable pieces. Save broth for use in other recipes.

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