This Mexican-inspired vegetarian taco soup recipe with kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans is easy, deliciously satisfying, and quick to prepare (you really just dump everything in the crockpot).
It's a set-it-and-forget-it kind of recipe packed with fiber, protein and low-glycemic carbohydrates that is nearly fat-free and perfect for busy lifestyles.
Plus, it's a great vegetarian and vegan option for families on a budget. Keep it vegan by omitting the optional cheese and sour cream toppings, or use dairy-free and vegan substitutes.
This is a terrific tailgating or party food especially when you're uncertain of your guests' eating preferences and dietary restrictions—its always nice to offer something for everyone. Try one of the tofu, seafood, and meat variations below.
- 1 (14-ounce) can corn (drained)
- 1 (14-ounce) can kidney beans (or navy beans, drained)
- 1 (14-ounce) can pinto beans (drained)
- 1 (14-ounce) can black beans (drained)
- Optional: 1 (7-ounce) can green chiles (you might want to omit this if you're cooking for kids)
- 1 (14-ounce) can stewed tomatoes (Mexican-style is best if you can find it, undrained)
- 1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Garnish: tortilla chips or corn chips (to taste)
- Garnish: grated cheese (to taste)
- Garnish: chopped green onions (to taste)
- Garnish: fresh chopped cilantro (to taste)
- Optional: sour cream (to taste)
- Place the drained corn, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, optional green chilies, and undrained stewed tomatoes in your crockpot and give it a quick stir.
- Next, add the taco seasoning mix, cumin, onion powder, salt, and garlic powder and quickly stir again.
- Cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours. Alternatively, if you're in a hurry, you can set this on high for 3 hours.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add vegetable broth to thin it out. If it is too thin, cook it a little longer with the cover off.
- To serve, set out bowls of optional garnishes—tortilla chips, grated cheese, chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, sour cream—and let your family or guests top their soup to their liking.
For even more protein, add tofu, seitan, or textured vegetable protein (TVP). If using tofu or seitan, follow these instructions. If using TVP, see the note after the directions. The yield will be increased from 6 servings to 8 servings in all three cases.
- Drain 12 ounces of firm or extra-firm tofu and cut it into 8 slices.
- Place the tofu slices on a thick layer of paper towels. Top with another thick layer of paper towels and place a heavy (cast-iron) skillet on top to press out the excess water. If you don't have a cast-iron skillet, make a weight by placing a heavy can of vegetables in a bowl on top of the tofu. Let the tofu press for 10 minutes.
- Sparingly brush the drained and pressed slices of tofu on all sides with olive oil or a neutral oil like canola, grapeseed, or sunflower oil.If desired, sprinkle with some of the packaged taco seasoning mix.
- Over medium-high heat, cook the tofu in a heated nonstick skillet until it begins to brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Flip the slices and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Remove from the pan and let cool. Cut into strips or chunks and add to the soup at the end of cooking to rewarm it. Don't let it boil because it can make the tofu unpleasantly tough.
Note: If using TVP, it must be reconstituted in hot water for 10 minutes before using.
Add it to the crockpot during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
If you are a vegetarian who eats fish and shellfish, you can use this same cooking technique by adding up to 12 ounces (pre-cooked weight) of seafood like shrimp, crab, cod, mahi-mahi, or any other firm-fleshed fin fish. Remember, when you mix the cooked seafood with the cooked soup to just warm it through otherwise, it will become rubbery, dry, and tough.
Meat Eater Variation
For the carnivores in your group, you can set out bowls of cooked and drained room-temperature chorizo sausage or grilled chicken along with the other garnishes for guests to add to their bowls at their discretion. The heat of the soup will rewarm the meat.