Taco soup was one of the first things I ever posted on Budget Bytes, and now, 14 years later, I’m ready for this tasty taco soup recipe to make a roaring comeback. Not only do I appreciate how quick and easy this flavorful soup is to make, but now I know how to make all of the seasoning mixes from scratch, so I can make it 100% homemade, or take the store-bought shortcut when needed. Either way, this taco soup is chock full of flavor, colors, and textures, and is one of those go-to recipes that I never get tired of!
What is Taco Soup?
Taco soup is a really easy soup made with ground beef, beans, a colorful medley of vegetables like onions, tomatoes, green chiles, and corn, and a generously spiced tomato-based broth. It’s got a ton of flavor and texture, but requires barely any work to prepare. And the best part? It’s just begging for all the fun toppings that you might find on a taco!
Ingredients for Taco Soup
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy taco soup:
- Ground beef: Ground beef helps make this soup really hearty and meal-worthy, but if you don’t like beef you can substitute it with ground turkey, pork, pulled pork, or even make it vegetarian by adding extra beans and vegetables.
- Beans: Beans help bulk up this recipe while keeping the cost lost. For this recipe, we use two kinds of beans (pinto and black beans), but you can always add more if you’d like!
- Vegetables: A medley of vegetables keeps this bowl of soup colorful AND flavorful. We used onion, garlic, diced tomatoes with green chiles, and corn. And the sky’s the limit when it comes to adding more veggies.
- Seasonings: This soup is not short on flavor thanks to not just one but TWO seasoning mixes, taco seasoning, and ranch seasoning. You can use our homemade recipe for either one or take a shortcut and use a store-bought seasoning packet. This bold mix of flavors makes sure that every spoonful is a ten!
- Tomato paste: A few tablespoons of tomato paste helps thicken the broth just a bit and adds a little brightness to the soup.
- Toppings: This is where the soup gets fun! Add all your favorite taco toppings to your bowl, or make it a spread and allow each person to build their own bowl.
What to Serve with Taco Soup
Taco soup has a lot going on in each bowl, so it could easily be considered a whole meal in one bowl, but if you want to add a little something-something on the side, I’d go for some simple cornbread or maybe some Cilantro Lime Rice.
But before you even get to the side dishes, make sure you have some of these fun toppings for taco soup:
- Tortilla chips
- Sour Cream
- Green onion
- Pickled red onion
- Cheddar cheese
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh lime
Store-Bought vs. Homemade Seasonings
One of the reasons taco soup is so popular is because it’s easy to make and uses a lot of convenient, shelf-stable pantry ingredients. Instead of measuring out ten different herbs and spices you can use store-bought seasoning mixes in one go. But those store-bought seasoning packets do tend to be a sodium bomb. So if you want a little more control over the ingredients in your taco soup, we have homemade versions of BOTH seasoning packets that you can use in their place. :) See our Homemade Taco Seasoning and Homemade Ranch Seasoning for a more “from scratch” option.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Taco soup is great for meal prep because the flavors just get better as they chill in the fridge! Divide this soup up into single servings just after cooking to allow it to cool faster, then store in the fridge for 4-5 days. For longer storage, you can transfer the chilled soup to the freezer and store for about three months. The soup reheats easily in the microwave or in a saucepot over medium-low.
Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Taco Soup
Taco soup is also really easy to make in a slow cooker or Instant Pot. Just follow these easy instructions:
Slow Cooker Taco Soup: Brown the ground beef in a skillet, then add it to a slow cooker with the remaining ingredients and cook on low heat for 6 hours, or high heat for three hours.
Instant Pot Taco Soup: Brown the ground beef using the sauté function, then continue to sauté with the onion and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, secure the lid, and cook on high pressure for five minutes. Allow the pot to naturally release pressure, then carefully remove the lid and serve.
Easy Taco Soup
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
- 1 lb. ground beef ($5.49)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.37)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
- 1 cup frozen corn ($0.47)
- 2 10oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chiles ($2.00)
- 1 15oz. can pinto beans, drained ($0.79)
- 1 15oz. can black beans, drained ($0.79)
- 1 packet taco seasoning* ($0.49)
- 1 packet ranch seasoning* ($0.69)
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste ($0.27)
- 2 cups water ($0.00)
- Add the olive oil and ground beef to a large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until the beef is fully browned. If using a high-fat content beef, drain the excess fat from the pot.
- While the beef is cooking, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the pot with the beef and continue to cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the frozen corn, pinto beans (drained), black beans (drained), and diced tomatoes with green chiles (with juices), and stir to combine.
- Add the tomato paste, taco seasoning, ranch seasoning, and water to the pot. Stir to combine. Turn the heat up to high, place a lid on the pot, and bring the soup up to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve hot with your favorite toppings!
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Taco Soup – Step by Step Photos
Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and one pound of ground beef to a large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until the beef is cooked through. If using a high-fat content beef, drain the excess fat from the pot. Once the beef is cooked, add one diced yellow onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic. Continue to stir and cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add one cup frozen corn kernels, one 15oz. can black beans (drained), one 15oz. can of pinto beans (drained), and two 10oz. cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles (with juices). Stir to combine.
Add 3 Tbsp tomato paste, one packet of taco seasoning (or one recipe homemade taco seasoning), one packet of ranch seasoning (or one recipe homemade ranch seasoning), and 2 cups water. Stir to combine.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and place a lid on top. Allow the soup to come up to a boil. Once boiling, give it a stir, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings to your liking (I did not add anything additional).
Serve the soup hot with your favorite toppings! (shown: tortilla chips, cilantro, and sour cream)