Thursday, October 22, 2009

Simple but Amazing Taco Soup

When I first came to America, I came here as a volunteer (missionary) for my church back in 2002 when I was 21 years old and stayed until 2004. I was born and raised in South Korea and it was my very first experience coming to America... my first experience outside of my home country. I was excited about all the adventures ahead of me! I got to meet a lot of interesting people, and by "interesting" I mean "totally-crazy-or/and-awesome"!! It wasn't hard to fall in love with the people in America, really. But it was the food that I had a hard time with in the beginning.

Well, if you have been to Asia, especially South Korea, you will know that Korean food is way different from American. When my missionary friends took me to Taco Bell for the first time, I thought I would never survive in America for longer than a month. I thought if all American food was like this.. I could never live here for a year and a half! (Sorry to all Taco Bell fans.. I'm just not a fan!)

Well, after going through lots of stomachaches getting used to American food, here I am... running a food blog and most of the food that I post here are American style food. After a year and a half of my wonderful experiences as a missionary, I went back to Korea for about three months before I came back here for school. Well, for a while, I was in heaven. I got to try all the Korean food that I craved while I was in America. I mean, they have Korean restaurants here but they are not the same. Just like they say Mexican food here is different from the ones in Mexico?? I would never know because I've never been to Mexico. But then after about a month or so, I started craving American food. Not McDonald's or Pizza Hut, but like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese... well you get the picture.

Then I really craved Mexican food. I wasn't introduced to a lot of ethnic foods until I came all the way across the Pacific Ocean to America. What is it? Why does America have so many different kinds of food? (I'm not complaining, really) In Korea, they have two kinds of restaurants - all things Korean or fast food. They don't have Mexican food, Thai food, Indian food, Brazilian food, etc. Seriously, if there was one reason to keep me here in America, it'd be food, well, besides my family, of course.

Okay, the point of this long, long intro (I never talk this much really) is that one of dishes I craved the most (besides stuffed mushrooms) when I was back in Korea for three months was this warm, spicy, filling taco soup. But it was impossible to get these ingredients there. No sour cream, no taco seasoning, no canned tomatoes, and cheese is so darn expensive there! But now I can have one my favorite soups whenever I want! So here is the recipe for easy taco soup. And the bottom line is... don't take it for granted. It's the things that you think you'll never miss you will miss the most. :)

Taco Soup

  • 1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef
  • 2 cups diced onions (I didn't add this due to my husband's hatred toward onions)
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pinto beans
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pink kidney beans
  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chiles
  • 2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles
  • 1 (4.6-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced
  • 1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix
  • Corn chips, for serving
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Grated cheddar cheese, for garnish
  • Chopped green onions, for garnish
  • Pickled Jalapenos, for garnish

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot.

Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chilies, black olives, (green olives), taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove.

To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese, green onions and jalapenos.


  1. WOW! What a lovely soup. So Yummy!!

  2. I love this blog about how strange food becomes familiar. I have experienced that too! And what a great soup! I agree with Anncoo: Wow!

  3. It's a shame that some of your first impressions of American food was Taco Bell, or Taco Hell as I call it. And yes, our Mexican food is actually TexMex not Mexican. Rick Bayless and his cookbooks come very close to teaching us the skills of preparing true Mexican food. Don't get me started about our sloppy TexMex cheese smothered restaurants. blech. I can go on and on
    This soup looks good. I've seen a couple of recipes like this over the years and have not tried them. This is on my list of things to make. Thanks for the post.

  4. Hi Sook!

    Thank you for your lovely page here!

    I am a new visitor to your page, I tripped over it from another friend's page where I found a link to yours, and I must say, it's a wonderful place to find!

    I enjoyed reading your post here, my father was in South Korea when he was 17 for over two years.... (he was blown up there, his unit thought he was dead and left him behind, but went back for the radio he had strapped to his back when they remembered that later - and they found him still alive! I'm very glad to say...)

    ANYway - sorry, I ramble.

    Thank you for this recipe! I used to make it for my children when they were young (7 of them), and it was one of their favorites back then.

    Thank you for the good memories this brought back - I'm going to make it again, and will follow your recipe!!

  5. Lea Ann-
    ha ha Taco hell? Funny. My husband is always sad that I don't like to go to Taco Bell for anything. He loves it. But we haven't gone much since we got married. :)

  6. Hi Karilyn-
    Welcome to my blog! Wow, what an amazing story about your dad? Was he in Korean War? That is definitely crazy. I'm definitely thankful for all the people that fought for Korea. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Sook, Taco soup is one of my favorite recipes too so yummy especially in the winter when its cold:) Your blog is amazing thanks for sharing your talent with us and taking the time to share your recipes. -Kamie

  8. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. Looks yumm, going to try it out this weekend

  9. This is a great post about your first time to America. I enjoyed reading about your adventures at Taco Bell. The soup looks delish!

  10. Sook, thanks for your interesting story with food. It's interesting how we can be so stuck up with our own food....including me...hehe. When I first landed in Koje Do where I stayed for 1+ years, I just wonder how on earth people would eat kimchi. But pretty soon I loved it very much and these days I made them often. My family loves it very much too. Korean food is just awesome. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe.

  11. MaryMoh-
    I know how Kimchi can be overwhelming for a lot of people. But a lot of times, they grow to love it as they try it over time. I didn't used to like it so much growing up but it's definitely one of things that I miss the most about Korea! Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment.

    Thanks to Kamie, Kim, and Lavanya Siva for the lovely comments too! You guys are so kind. :)

  12. This is a great soup recipe and it's going in the database! But it's your "coming to America" story that makes the whole thing memorable. GREG

  13. It's getting a little colder her in the valley and this would be a good soup to just bum around the house with. Looks great.