This Taco Soup recipe is made with fridge and pantry staples, such as ground beef, canned tomatoes, beans and corn. It is also made in one pot and ready in 45 minutes, making it perfect for those busy weeknights when you are craving something warming. Packed with all the flavors that you would find in a ground beef taco, only healthier!
While this soup can’t be called Mexican, it is definitely inspired by Mexican flavors that we all love and crave. If you are looking for more Mexican and Tex-Mex inspired meals, make sure to also get my recipes for Mexican Beef and Rice Casserole, Ground Beef Burritos and Chicken Taquitos.
The grocery stores near me have been looking a little bare recently. This past week was even worse, because we got hit with a snow storm, so people panicked and bought pretty much all the food available!
But I did not despair! After all, if recent times taught me something, it was to keep my pantry, fridge and freezer stocked. And so this Taco Soup recipe came to be!
Timing couldn’t have been better. Nothing like eating a bowl of hot soup while the snow falls outside.
Funny as it sounds, I am glad that the circumstances led me to this soup. It is now a family favorite and it will definitely be on our rotation!
Why I love this Taco Soup recipe?
I mean, I’m pretty sure just looking at this soup answers this question. But I thought I’d list all the reasons I love this soup! ❤️
- It is made in one pot, so cleaning up is a breeze.
- It is made with ingredients that are probably already in your pantry and fridge/freezer, making this the perfect meal for when a snow storm hits and you can’t get to the grocery store!
- It tastes like a taco, but with less carbs and calories.
- It’s highly customizable, so you can substitute ingredients and adjust heat.
To make this Taco Soup recipe, you will need:
- Ground Beef – Choose lean ground beef (15 to 20% fat). A mid-range lean-to-fat ratio ensures the beef is tender and flavorful, but the soup won’t be too fatty. You can also make this soup with ground chicken or ground turkey!
- Onion and Garlic – Also known as the aromatics. They make the flavor base for the soup.
- Canned Tomatoes – I use a can of petite diced tomatoes and a can of Rotel fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies, for a kick. This soup is not spicy at all, so if you want some more heat, consider adding a small can of hot green chiles or some jalapeño.
- Tomato Paste – The tomato paste adds a deeper tomato flavor and more intensity to this taco soup.
- Beans – I use a large can of black beans, but pinto beans (or a combination of both) would work too.
- Corn – I love the little bursts of sweetness from the corn in this soup. You can use frozen, canned or fresh corn kernels. If using frozen, no need to thaw! Just add it to the soup as-is and it will thaw while it cooks. You’re welcome!
- Taco Seasoning – It’s what makes this soup a “taco soup”. Use store-bought (mild or hot) or homemade.
- Beef Broth – I use beef broth, as I prefer this soup on the lighter side. For a heartier, more intense taco soup, you can substitute for equal parts of beef stock.
- Oil – For browning the beef. Use vegetable oil, which is neutral, as olive oil doesn’t really go with Mexican flavors.
- Salt and Pepper – Be careful with the salt in this recipe, especially if using store-bought taco seasoning. Some taco seasonings already contains salt, so be conservative with the salt and adjust at the end as needed.
How to Make Taco Soup
Quick, easy (fool-proof, really!) and made in one pot. What could be better than that?
Prep is also minimum, with very little chopping involved. Lots of opening cans, but that doesn’t really count, does it?
You will notice I recommend using a Dutch oven, but if you don’t own one, any large pot will do.
I am also including instructions for the Instant Pot and the slow cooker, just in case you prefer cooking it like that! 😊
Here’s how I make this Taco Soup recipe. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) version of the recipe at the end of this post!
Step 1: Brown the Ground Beef.
- Heat the oil and brown the ground beef until cooked through. If the ground beef renders a lot of fat, I recommend draining some so your soup don’t end up too greasy.
Step 2: Sauté the aromatics.
- Add the onions and garlic, sautéing until softened.
- Stir in the tomato paste and taco seasoning.
Step 3: Cook the soup!
- Add the remaining ingredients. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Serve with your favorite toppings!
Making Taco Soup in the Instant Pot
Using the sauté function of your Instant Pot, heat the oil and brown the ground beef. Drain excess grease if needed. Then, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute, or until fragrant.
Next, you will add the tomato paste + taco seasoning and let it cook for a minute or two. Then, finally, add the remaining ingredients. I recommend adding one less cup of broth, making it 3 cups total.
Once the soup is simmering, place and lock the lid in place. With the steam release knob on the sealing position, cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. It will take about 10-15 minutes for the pressure to build.
Use the quick-release method to release the pressure, about 5 minutes. Unlock, remove the lid and give the soup a good stir. Then serve with toppings!
Making Taco Soup in the Slow Cooker
To make this soup in the slow cooker, you will want to start by browning the beef, sautéing the veggies and stirring the tomato paste + taco seasoning on the stove, as per the main recipe’s instructions.
You will then transfer everything to your slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients. I recommend adding one less cup of broth, making it 3 cups total.
Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours. Then, stir and serve with toppings!
- Even with the fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies, this soup is quite mild. However, it is easy to add heat by adding a can of hot green chiles and using hot taco seasoning. A pinch of cayenne is another alternative if you like spicy food.
- If the ground beef renders a lot of fat when browning, make sure to drain the excess so the soup doesn’t end up greasy.
- This soup is supposed to be broth-y. If you like it thicker, just let it boil uncovered at the end, to thicken it up. But one might argue that it won’t be taco soup anymore, becoming chili instead! 😉
What’s the fun in eating tacos? The toppings, obviously! And with this soup it is not different.
I like to serve the toppings on the side, so each person can help themselves and customize their taco soup according to their likings.
Here are my favorite toppings for taco soup:
- Shredded cheese. Cheddar, Monterey Jack or a Mexican Blend all work here! Crumbled cotija is also a good option, if you are craving something saltier.
- Sour cream or Mexican crema.
- Lime wedges.
- Sliced red onions and/or sliced jalapeños.
- Tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips.
- Diced avocado.
- Hot sauce.
This taco soup is highly customizable, so the variations are endless.
- Make it with ground chicken, pork or turkey, instead of beef. Gee, you can even make it vegan with plant-based “ground beef” and vegetable broth.
- Make it creamy by adding cream cheese.
- Add whatever veggies you have sitting in the fridge. Bell peppers and zucchini go great here!
- Substitute the black beans for pinto or red beans.
- Make it low carb by omitting the beans and corn.
- To make this soup gluten-free, make sure to buy gluten-free taco seasoning.
- Spice things up by adding hot green chiles, jalapeños, hot taco seasoning or a pinch of cayenne.
Frequently Asked Questions
While the ingredients are similar, chili is thicker than taco soup. Taco soup is… well, soupier!
Taco soup keeps in the fridge, stored in an airtight container, for 3-4 days.
Yes, this soup freezes well for up to 6 months!
If soup is frozen, allow to thaw overnight in the fridge. Then place it in a saucepan and heat it up over medium heat, stirring often. You can add a splash or two of broth if the soup has dried out too much in the fridge/freezer.
More Soup Recipes
- Brazilian Black Bean Soup
- Zuppa Toscana
- Pasta e Fagioli
- Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup
- Turkey, Kale and Rice Soup
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 ½ pounds lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning, homemade or store-bough
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 14oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 14oz fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 28oz can black beans, drained
- 1 ½ cups frozen, fresh or canned corn
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Toppings: sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges, shredded cheese, diced avocados, sliced red onions, tortilla strips, etc.
- In a large Dutch Oven, over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. If the ground beef renders too much fat, drain some before proceeding. Season with a small pinch of salt and pepper.
- Lower the heat to medium, then add the diced onion. Cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute, or until fragrant.
- Stir in the taco seasoning and tomato paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until incorporated. Then, pour in the broth and add the tomatoes, beans and corn. Season with a small pinch of salt and pepper.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes.
- Give the soup a good stir, then taste and adjust seasoning. You can add more salt, pepper and/or taco seasoning as needed.
- Serve with desired toppings.
- Note on seasoning: Since store-bought taco seasoning and broth can have added salt, be conservative with the salt at first. You can adjust at the end, before serving.
- Storage: This soup keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freezing: You can freeze this soup for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- Reheating instructions: Reheat the taco soup in a saucepan on the stove, over medium heat, until warmed through. If the soup has dried out too much in the fridge or freezer, you can add more broth to bring it back to the original consistency.
- Instant Pot and Slow Cooker: Read the blog post for instructions on how to make this soup using these appliances.