Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Need a little comfort?

     Whether you feel like curling up on the couch or kickin' up your boots, I've got the perfect soup for you: Texas Two-Step Soup.  Think of it as comfort on a spoon with just enough "umph" to get your motor going.
     As much as I enjoy baking, there is nothing I enjoy more than stirring up a big pot of soup.  Frankly, I don't think I know how to make a small pot of soup.  Baking is all about precision but soup making just lends itself to a "little bit of this and a little bit of that." 
     My daughter, Ellie, loves soup of any kind and this recipe is no exception.  I found the original recipe years ago when I was on a "gifts in a jar" kick and have tweaked it to our family's liking.  The soup's official name is Texas Two-Step but we have a new name for it in our house.  While I was fixing this recipe last night, Ellie peered into the pot and said, "Ooooh yummy! You're making that square dance soup!"
     So, whether you call it Texas Two-Step or "Square Dance Soup", it's sure to make your tastebuds sing.


1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
7 cups water
1 envelope (1.6 oz) brown gravy mix
1 (16oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 (15) can of mexican-style corn (the kind with red and green bell peppers added)
1 (16 oz) can black beans
2 T. dried chili powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or, to taste)
8 oz. small, dried pasta (such as ditalini or shells) 

In a large stockpot, brown the ground beef until no longer pink.  Drain off all but a tablespoon of the fat.  Add the chopped onion to the pot and saute until translucent.  Add the water, gravy mix, vegetables (no need to drain any of the canned veggies) and the seasonings to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Allow soup to gently simmer for about 25 minutes.  Add the dried pasta to the soup and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes or until pasta is tender.  Adjust seasonings, if needed.  Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream, a little shredded Pepper Jack cheese and a sprinkling of green onions, if you like.

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