A Deliciously Tasty Texas Taco Soup Recipe

For anyone who’s ever looked at a simmering pot of taco meat and thought, “I could eat a bowl of that,” this soup is for you! Taco soup is fifty percent tortilla soup, fifty percent chili and one hundred percent delicious. It’s full of ground beef, beans and corn, seasoned to take advantage of the flavors of true Tex-Mex cooking.

Texas Taco Soup

We’re all familiar with classic tortilla soup. Full of chicken goodness, the tortilla soup is topped with crushed tortilla chips or totopos and ooey-gooey cheddar cheese. This Texas taco soup recipe is close to tortilla soup, but not quite the same. Made with ground beef and American green chilies and other ingredients native to the American Southwest, taco soup originated in the 1950s and evolved as American tastes grew spicier and more adventurous in the 1990s and 2000s.

Today’s taco soup is spicier and more like the traditional tortilla soup than its ancestor of decades past. Full of challenging spices, fiery Hatch chiles, and topped with Tapatio or Sriracha hot sauce depending on the whims of the eater, today’s taco soup would hardly appeal to the fainter palates of the mid-20th Century, but certainly does satisfy the modern taste. At the same time, the spiciness can be dialed back to appeal to children’s less-refined palates. This is certainly a family-pleasing soup; kids love the savory flavors and big beefy punch of taco soup.

Texas taco soup is more accurately called Southwestern taco soup, because the recipes extant are unclear as to which part of the Southwest the recipe actually originates from. But since everything’s bigger in Texas, we chose to name this recipe after the Lone Star State. Besides, “New Mexico taco soup” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.


  • 1 pound ground beef, chorizo sausage, turkey, or TVP, or shredded chicken
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can chopped Hatch chiles (if serving to children, use half a can)
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (Ro-Tel preferably but any brand will do)
  • 1 packet Taco seasoning
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 carton chicken broth or stock
  • Chili powder
  • Hungarian smoked OR California sweet paprika
  • For Garnish, your choice of:
  • Sour Cream
  • ½ yellow onion, minced
  • 1 block of cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 avocado, sliced OR diced
  • Hot sauce of your choice
  • 1 handful tortilla chips per bowl
  • NOTE: It’s acceptable to use shredded cheese as opposed to grating a block of cheese.


  1. If using ground beef or turkey, thoroughly season the raw ground meat with chili powder, Paprika, Kosher salt and ground Black pepper. Work the seasonings into the meat to make sure the meat is thoroughly seasoned.
  2. Preheat a cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat and begin to brown the meat if using a raw meat, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula. Pre-cooked meat, such as shredded chicken, should not be browned (which will make the already cooked meat tough and rubbery) but instead added later. Once only traces of pink remain, spoon out the browned meat with a slotted spoon and pour off the fat, retaining 1 tablespoon in the Dutch oven.
  3. Take the diced half of the onion and add it to the remaining rendered fat, sauté until just brown at the edges and add the Hatch chiles, chicken broth, water, Taco seasonings, Paprika, and tomatoes.
  4. Once the Taco seasonings and Paprika have fully dissolved into the soup, add the corn, beans, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  5. Once the boil has receded to a bare simmer, taste the broth for seasoning and adjust to taste. Taco seasoning is quite salty so wait until this step to add salt, especially since the ground beef, ground turkey or Chorizo sausage are already seasoned.
  6. Add the meat back to the soup, along with the remaining rendered fat.
  7. Simmer the soup for at least 15 minutes. If your meat is a grocery-store grind, don’t simmer it for more than an hour or the meat will get pebbly and slightly unpleasant.

When you’re done

Serve with hot sauce, tortilla chips, diced avocado, grated cheese and onion.

This soup gets better in the refrigerator overnight and freezes beautifully; frozen it keeps for 1-3 months before becoming freezer burned. But let’s be realistic, you’re not going to let a soup like this sit in your freezer for three months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does taco soup originate?

Taco soup is a Tex-Mex dish. Originating in the American Southwest states of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, it merges some traditional Mexican techniques with American ingredients and creates a dish that’s a cross between two distinct cuisines.

Why hatch chiles?

Hatch chiles are the official state chile pepper of New Mexico. This assertive pepper is perfectly balanced between sweet and heat. Hatch chiles are more balanced for Americans’ tastes. Anaheim and Jalapeno chiles are perfectly good options for substitution if your grocery store doesn’t carry Hatch chiles, but most grocery stores do carry them these days.

Why Grate Your Own Cheese?

It’s perfectly possible to use pre-packaged shredded cheese in this recipe. However, pre-shredded cheese tends not to melt cleanly due to being dusted with cellulose powder (i.e. powdered wood pulp) to keep it from caking in the package. Because of this, if you have time, grate your own.

How is taco soup different from chili?

Chili is normally a stew rather than a soup. It’s also not usually made with taco seasonings, but rather with a thick and hearty stock that the meat is simmered in. This taco soup recipe, although thicker than pure broth-based soups like chicken noodle or vegetable beef, features a drinkable broth flavored primarily from the ingredients rather than by the meat.

Taco soup also contains a smaller proportion of beans than a typical American chili, important because cooked beans will of course release starch into the cooking broth, thickening it further.

How is taco soup different from tortilla soup?

Taco soup, as a product of Tex-Mex cooking, contains ingredients that are traditionally American. Ground beef, taco seasonings, beans, corn, and green chilies are important but not necessarily omnipresent ingredients in taco soup while tortilla soup centers fried corn tortilla pieces, garlic, onion, and chile de arbol. Tortilla soup can be made with – but is not required to be made with – shredded chicken, while taco soup can substitute chicken or vegetarian proteins for the ground beef.

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