From the kitchen: Taco soup

By By Judy Grigoraci
For the Gazette
Photo courtesy April Hamilton
Colorful plates line the shelves at the Girl Scout Headquarters, waiting for What’s Cooking Wednesday participants to whip up some delicious and nutritious taste treats.

We just celebrated Labor Day and I think we’re beginning to creep up on cooler weather.

Slowly, because some of these sunny, into mid-September days can have us longing for a jump into the old swimming pool for instant relief.

I may be w-a-y early in passing along a soup recipe, but sooner or later we’ll round the bend to wintry weather.

And there soon may be one rainy day with a slight coolness in the air, a little too balmy for chili, but Goldilocks-just-right for tolerating a delightfully flavored nutritious bowl of beans and corn.

For a smidgen of heat, original or hot Rotel tomatoes with chilies can be relied upon to amp up the voltage in your bowl.

For the non-fire-eaters there’s no embarrassment attached to reaching for the mild Rotel.

Tossing in what may be the last of nature’s summer bounty of corn, cut fresh from the cob, would provide a clean, fresh taste and help reduce the number of cans (and sodium) that most taco soups utilize.

I don’t think black-eyed peas get the attention they deserve, so I chose them as one of the beans in the trio.

As a time saver, instead of the fresh chopped onion, celery and bell peppers, you may use three cups of the packaged Birds Eye frozen recipe-ready seasoning mixture of the same vegetables.

A pound of browned and drained lean ground beef, ground turkey, or sausage (hunters, how about venison?) can be included in the recipe, making for a more substantial entrée, but it is fine as a meatless offering.

And don’t forget corn muffins as an ultimate go-with. Splitting them, hot from the oven, and spreading with butter that melts down the sides is optional.

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The following is a little food note of interest to the younger set of budding chefs and interested cooks.

“What’s Cooking Wednesdays,” which are special cooking classes for girls of all ages, begin Sept. 10 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Girl Scout Black Diamond Council Girl and Volunteer Center (Girl Scout headquarters), 321 Virginia Street West.

Chef April Hamilton will be the instructor, starting off with “Sensational Salsas.” Classes are $28 per session. Temporary enrollment will be made for those who wish to attend but aren’t Scouts.

The fun and feast-ive classes continue through December with topics that include Pecks of Pickles; Apple a Day; Campfire Sizzle (backyard cookout); Pancakes; Cooking on a Stick; Energy Bars Your Way; Skip, Hop, Slurp: Mom’s Helper; Vegan Treats; Greatest Granola; and December 10, International Holiday Cookies.

A special September 19 session is an overnight (in the Girl Zone bunk room) called “Weekend in the City/Jr. Master Chef,” which will overlap cuisine and cultures of France and Vietnam.

The registration deadline has been extended. Call 304-345-7722 or 800-756-7616 for registration and information, or go online at

Reach Judy Grigoraci at

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Three Bean Taco Soup

Makes 10 servings.

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

2 10-ounce cans Rotel tomatoes and chilies, undrained

1 cup corn — fresh from the cob or frozen niblets

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained

1 15-ounce can light red kidney beans, rinsed, drained

1 15-ounce can black eyed peas, rinsed, drained

1 packet reduced-sodium taco seasoning

½ tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon dry original ranch dressing mix (half a 1-ounce packet)

2 14-ounce cans vegetable or reduced-sodium chicken broth

SAUTE onion, celery and bell pepper in sprayed pot until tender; stir in all remaining ingredients; simmer covered about 20 minutes for flavors to blend.

Nutrition information: (1/10 recipe) 160 calories; 15 calories from fat; 1.5 grams fat; zero grams saturated fat; zero milligrams cholesterol; 540 milligrams sodium; 29 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 10 grams protein.

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