The Best Taco Soup

Years ago when I was newly married, Tracy sent me a recipe box for my birthday.  Included were several recipes that she had handwritten. This is one of my favorites from that now well-used box.  I have made this more times than I can count and it’s always a hit. Taco Soup is a stick-to-your-ribs meal in one pot.   This version is different than any other I have seen. The addition of ranch dressing (trust me here, do not leave this out!!) adds another layer of flavor and creaminess.  We love to serve it with warm, buttered corn bread. This recipe makes a lot, so cutting it in half is feasible, but the leftovers are worth making the whole batch!!  ~Kathy


The Best Taco Soup

11, 1 cup servings

The Best Taco Soup

  • ~2 lbs. lean ground beef (93/7) or 99% lean ground turkey
  • ~1 medium onion, chopped
  • ~2 pkg taco seasoning (1.3 oz each)
  • ~2 (15 oz) cans chili beans or ranch style beans
  • ~1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, mostly drained
  • ~1 (15 oz) can corn, drained (or 1 ¼ c. frozen corn)
  • ~2 (15 oz) cans stewed or diced tomatoes
  • ~1 (10 oz) can Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chilis - you can use mild, original or hot depending on your preference
  • ~1 ¼ c. water
  • ~1 c. Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing (we use Hidden Valley)
  1. In a large pot, brown ground beef, adding onion part way through the cooking process.
  2. Remove to drain any excess oil.
  3. Return to pot and add remaining ingredients.
  4. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

This recipe makes about 11 cups. Each 1 cup serving is 6 WW points per serving if made with lean ground beef. When made with 99% lean ground turkey, each serving is 2 WW points.

** If you live at high altitude, increase the amount of water to 1 ½ cups.


Zucchini Soup

I recently did a 28 day challenge at a local gym, Signature Fitness.  The challenge included 4 trainer-led (killer! – but doable) workouts per week and a meal plan.  Well, I didn’t exactly follow the meal plan (I do Weight Watchers anyway so I felt no need to deviate from that) but I did try to eat more “clean” during the challenge.  I didn’t win the 4 week challenge but I did lose a few pounds (which was not my goal) and some inches (that was more my focus).  Even though I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly, I did try a few of the recipes.  This Zucchini Soup is one of those.  It’s a very summery soup… does that make sense for a soup?  It does in this situation… it’s so fresh tasting!  You have a couple options for flavors here.  The original recipe calls for fennel.  I loved it with the fennel, but not all members of my family are fennel fans so I often make it with dill instead.  I love it just as much with dill, and it’s delicious served warm or cold, either one!  ~Erin


Zucchini Soup
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped
  • ½ a medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried fennel seed OR ½ tsp dried dill weed (not both!)
  • 3 c. low-sodium chicken stock
  • Salt, to taste (plus black pepper if using fennel)
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot with zucchini, onion, and fennel seed (if using).
  2. Sautee over medium heat until onion becomes translucent.
  3. Add chicken stock and dill, if using instead of fennel.
  4. Simmer until zucchini is very tender (about 10-15 minutes).
  5. Turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes, then blend with an immersion blender. If you do not have an immersion blender, let the mixture cool to almost room temp and then puree in your blender. Do not put hot liquids in the blender.
  6. Add salt (and pepper if you used fennel as the spice – pepper is not necessary if you used dill) to taste.
  7. If you used fennel, you may want to strain out the seeds at this point; they don’t blend.
  8. Serve warm or cold.

Weight Watchers info: This soups makes about 4 servings of 1 cup each. Each serving is zero SmartPoints!

Crock Pot Chicken Verde – 3 Ways

This recipe was born of necessity.  I needed lunch for the week and this is what I had in the pantry and freezer.  Well, let me tell you, it was a happy accident because, in just about 5 minutes of prep work, I had this going in the crockpot.  The result is 3 recipes in one! Throughout the week, I ate this as a dip (my favorite way), a soup with the addition of a little chicken broth, and a rice bowl…so versatile, so delicious!  ~Erin


Chicken Verde – 3 Ways
  • ~1 ½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use the individually frozen kind)
  • ~1 can (16 oz.) pinto beans, drained & rinsed
  • ~1 can (16 oz.) fat free refried beans
  • ~1 can (15 oz.) whole kernel corn
  • ~1 c. fat free salsa verde
  • ~1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
  • ~2 - 3 T. ground cumin (I used 3 because I love cumin)
  • ~1 ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • ~2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ~2 tsp. onion powder
  • ~Corn chips, for dipping (I use Good Thins The Corn One – found in the cracker aisle), optional
  • ~Cooked rice, optional for serving
  • ~Fat free chicken broth, optional
  • ~Chopped cilantro, optional
  • ~Cheese, optional
  1. Place frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker. (You can use thawed breasts too but keep in mind it may cook faster.)
  2. Pour in beans, refried bean, corn, green chiles, & spices.
  3. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  4. Within the last 30 minutes of cooking, remove the chicken, shred, and add back to the slow cooker.
  5. Stir to combine the ingredients.
  6. Three ways to serve: 1. As a dip, serve with chips. 2. Add broth for a soup. Top with cheese, green onions, or chopped cilantro if desired. 3. Over rice; add cheese, green onions or cilantro if desired.
  7. Weight Watchers info: This is ZERO SmartPoints on Freestyle. Be sure to calculate your added points if you serve with rice, cheese, or chips.

Easy One-Pot Tortilla Soup

I try really hard (well, most of the time) not to let the weekends get the best of my eating habits.  Sometimes though, I need to feel like I’m eating an indulgent food that I’d order at a restaurant on a Saturday night out with friends. That is, if I don’t get the enchiladas, but that’s something for a different post.  I hope you and yours love this tortilla soup as much as I do….it’s so good, and doesn’t wreck your entire diet (I’ve recently started adding a can of Cannellini, or  white pinto beans, to make this soup even heartier for no extra WW points).  Only 1 WW Freestyle Point per cup!  ~Tracy


½ T. extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

½ c. red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

½ c. green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed

2 cans (4.5 oz.) chopped and peeled green chilies

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 pinch cayenne pepper (or to taste)

1/2 tsp. salt

3 c. chopped white meat chicken (I use shredded rotisserie chicken breast)

32 oz. fat free chicken broth

2/3 c. mild red enchilada sauce (I use Old El Paso)

1 15 oz. can Cannellini Beans (I use Bush’s)

½ c. nonfat plain Greek yogurt

2 limes, quartered

4 avocados, peeled and chopped (optional but highly recommended)

tortilla strips (optional)


In large (3 quart) stock pot, sauté onion, peppers, chiles, and garlic until the onion begins to become translucent.  Add cumin, cayenne, and salt and stir to blend.  Stir in chicken, enchilada sauce, and broth.   Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add beans and then simmer for 15-20 minutes.  

Right before serving, stir a small amount of hot broth from the soup into the Greek yogurt to temper yogurt.  Stir yogurt mixture into soup.  

Serve each bowl topped with ¼ of an avocado, peeled and chopped into small chunks.  Squeeze a lime wedge over the top of soup / avocado and serve.  If desired, top with crunchy tortilla strips (don’t forget to include the avocado and tortilla strips in your WW points if you add those).

Weight Watchers Info.:  Makes 8, 1 cup servings.  Each cup is 1 Weight Watchers SmartPoint on the Freestyle program, not including optional garnishes. 


Buffalo Ranch Chicken Chili

This recipe was inspired by my husband. When I created my Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili, he suggested that Buffalo style might be another tasty variation. He was right! Even if you don’t love Buffalo wings, I am confident you will love this chili. It’s packed with flavor & has just the right amount of kick! ~Erin



4 oz. reduced fat or Greek cream cheese, softened

1 (10 ¾ oz.) can Campbell’s Healthy Request Condensed Cheddar Soup

32 oz. unsalted chicken stock

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts – individually frozen

½ c. finely chopped carrots

½ c. finely chopped celery

3 cans (15.8 oz. each) great northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. salt

1 package (about 8 tsp.) Hidden Valley dry ranch dressing mix

1/3 c. Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings sauce

Optional garnishes: real bacon bits, green onions, extra buffalo sauce


In the pot of your slow cooker, whisk together softened cream cheese and condensed cheddar soup until well combined.

Whisk in chicken stock, dry ranch dressing mix, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and wing sauce. Stir in celery and carrots.

Add frozen chicken breasts (you can use thawed chicken if you prefer; just keep in mind it will cook faster).

Add beans but do not stir them in — leave them on top.

Cook 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. When 1 hours of cook time is left, remove the chicken breasts, shred, and return to pot to finish cooking.

Garnish with a drizzle of Buffalo sauce, bacon bits, and green onions, if desired.

Weight Watchers Info.: Each 10 oz. serving (about 1 ¼ cups) is 2 SmartPoints on the FreeStyle plan. Serves 10. Optional garnishes should be calculated separately.

Busy Day Crockpot Potato Soup


It’s county fair season!  My 2 kiddos entered their rabbits this year.  This was their first year to enter so I prepared them, as any momma who has two kids competing against each other would.  You know the dialog… “You may not win anything”… “If your sister wins something and you don’t, I want you to be happy for her – no whining”… that kind of thing.  Well, all that was for naught because they both won prizes!  My daughter’s rabbit, Blueberry, won Best of Show and Champion Fur Rabbit – 2 trophies!  My son’s rabbit, Ninja (love that he named a rabbit ‘Ninja’ – funny boy!), won Reserve Champion Fur Rabbit.


The funny thing is, I have no idea what qualifies as a champion rabbit.  We just thought it would be fun to let the kids enter, and we lucked out, apparently, by getting good quality show rabbits.  Who knew?!

The kids were so proud of their trophies and have shown them to everybody they know, of course.  My daughter must have felt sorry for her brother though, since he only got one, so later she made him this:

bonus trophy

It says “1st Most Improved Brother.”  Ha!  I couldn’t help but chuckle at her handmade consolation prize.  Such a sweet sister!

On this busy fair day, while the kids were readying their rabbits, I threw together our favorite potato soup in the crockpot.  I love potato soup but I used to hate making it simply because it’s time consuming to peel and chop the potatoes and onion, cook bacon for the toppings (gotta have bacon – see my handy tip below!), etc.  I also struggled for a long time to come up with a good potato soup recipe.  I don’t like it brothy (not a word but it works here).  I like a creamy, rich, thick potato soup.  This recipe is all that without all the usual work because it uses frozen hash brown potatoes!  It’s quick and easy to get in the crockpot on a day you are feeling not-so-motivated to make supper (or in a hurry, like today) but need some good comfort food.  With 5 minutes of work, this was prepped and cooking away.  A few hours later, we came home to supper… ready, warm, and waiting.  It was exactly what we were craving!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.   ~Erin


4 oz. Greek cream cheese, softened (This can be found next to the other cream cheeses in the grocery store.  I get it at Walmart.)*

1 (10 ¾ oz.) can Campbell’s Healthy Request condensed cheddar cheese soup

1 (32 oz.) box fat-free chicken broth

½ c. fat-free half & half

½ a medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped

1 (32 ounce) bag frozen “Southern style” diced hash brown potatoes (not shredded!)

Salt & pepper

Optional toppings:  shredded cheese, bacon bits, chopped green onions



Whisk softened cream cheese and cheddar soup together in your crockpot.  (Or if you are lazy like me you can use your crockpot to soften the cream cheese as it warms up.)

Whisk while adding chicken broth and half & half until smooth.

Stir in the onion and 2/3 of the bag of frozen hash browns; reserve remainder for the last 30 min of cook-time.

Salt and pepper lightly.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally.

Add the remaining 1/3 of the hash browns when 30 minutes cook time is left.

Top with shredded cheese, bacon bits, and green onions if desired.

Tip:  Use prepackaged real bacon bits and toss them in a small skillet for 30 seconds or so to crisp them up.  You could also put them on a paper towel lined plate and pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds to crisp them.  They are never crispy enough straight from the package for my liking.

Weight Watchers info.:  This makes 8 one-cup servings at 5 SmartPoints per cup, not including optional toppings.  I like to add ½ cup fat-free shredded cheddar for 1 SmartPoint, 1 Tablespoon real bacon bits for 1 Smartpoint, and chopped green onions.

*If you can’t find Greek cream cheese, you can substitute reduced fat cream cheese but it will increase the Weight Watchers SmartPoints to 6 per cup.

Tamale Soup


Tamale soup is a no-fail recipe.  My, can it feed a crowd! It’s one of our most requested soups with tons of great flavor.  We like to spice it up by adding some ground red pepper, but it’s not needed if you can’t take the heat.  For those who follow Weight Watchers as a couple of us do, it’s a mere 4 SmartPoints on the Freestyle plan (6 SmartPoints on old plan) per 8 oz. serving.


1 lb. ground beef (93% lean)

1 c. chopped onion

1 c. chopped green pepper

1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes (sometimes we use part Ro-Tel)

2 cans pinto beans – undrained

1 14 oz. can cream style corn

1 14 oz. can beef broth

2 15 oz. cans beef tamales in chili sauce (we use Hormel)

1 can white hominy, drained

grated cheese for topping

cilantro (optional for garnish, if desired)


Remove paper from individual tamales, chop into 1 in. bite size pieces, and set aside; reserve sauce.

Cook beef together with onions and bell pepper until beef is fully cooked.  Drain away any excess fat and transfer to a large soup pot.

Add tomatoes, hominy, beans, corn, and broth.  Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Stir in tamale pieces and ½ c. of reserved sauce.  Heat through.

Serve topped with your favorite cheese such as a Colby Jack mix.

If desired, garnish with cilantro.

Weight Watchers info.:   4 Smart Points per 8 oz. serving, not counting optional cheese for garnish; this soup was 6 SmartPoints under old plan.