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Chicken taco soup is a versatile dish typically made with chicken, taco seasonings, beans, vegetables, and chicken broth. Some recipes may call for salsa as well. The soup can be made from scratch with fresh ingredients, but many people make this soup because it utilizes canned items that are staples in most kitchens. Chicken taco soup can be made on a stove top or in a slow cooker, and is usually cooked over low heat for several hours. Common garnishes for this soup include tortilla strips, cheese, cilantro, and sour cream.
Any cut of chicken can be used when making chicken taco soup, but breasts and thighs are most commonly used. The meat may be boiled, baked, or grilled. Raw pieces of chicken may also be added to the broth and simmered until fully cooked. Some recipes call for canned chicken in order to save time. If the soup is being made in a slow cooker, frozen chicken breasts can be used, but this may increase the amount of cooking time required. Many people prepare this soup as a way to use leftover chicken from other meals.
Beans and vegetables are added to the soup for extra texture and flavor. Black beans and kidney beans are commonly used, and may be fresh or from a can. Vegetables in chicken taco soup usually include tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and corn. Canned vegetables may be used in place of fresh. For a more complex flavor, the vegetables may be sauteed in butter or olive oil before being added to the broth.
Chicken stock is the main liquid in most chicken taco soup recipes, but a jar of salsa may be used as well. If a spicier soup is desired, hot peppers, such as jalapenos, can be used in the dish. The majority of the flavor in the soup comes from taco seasonings. A packaged, pre-mixed blend of spices can be purchased at a supermarket or this can be made at home by combining chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and paprika.
The soup should simmer for several hours in order to develop flavor, and to ensure that all of the ingredients are thoroughly cooked. Chicken taco soup is generally hearty enough to serve as a meal, but it may also be served with fresh flour tortillas and a salad. Many people like to top it with sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, and crispy, fried tortilla strips.