Turn To Refried Beans To Thicken And Boost The Flavor Of Your Taco Soup

If you're looking to upgrade your taco soup into a rich, creamy meal, you could turn to tried-and-true thickeners like cream cheese, heavy cream, flour, or corn starch. But where's the fun (or flavor) in those ingredients? The next time your taco soup could use a little extra oomph, opt for refried beans instead. Contrary to popular belief, this ingredient involves beans that have been fried once, but cooked twice, as they first simmer in water until they're soft. By the time they've turned into the refried legumes you'll recognize, they're thick, creamy, and rich — almost like the mashed potato version of beans.

All of these qualities are exactly what they'll bring to your taco soup, plus some flavors that will pair perfectly with your dish. Besides legumes and oil, a typical refried beans recipe uses onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cilantro, and lime juice — all ingredients that will give an extra flavor boost to creamy taco soup, which often uses many of the same seasonings. And if you're trying to stay away from dairy, these mashed beans are the perfect (and more tasty) substitute for cream cheese or heavy cream.

How to incorporate refried beans into your taco soup

You can either make refried beans to add to your taco soup at home, or you can buy cans at the grocery store — either should work just fine. And you can pick classic or fat-free versions, as both will add creaminess from the mashed up legumes. Incorporating them into your taco soup recipe is as easy as omitting the original thickening ingredient (i.e. cream cheese) and stirring in your beans instead. Even if your recipe doesn't call for a thickener, feel free to pour in a can of the legumes to give it a rich upgrade. Typically you'll want to add it in after you've cooked any meat and aromatics, along with your veggies and broth. It should melt right in with the rest of your soup while all the ingredients simmer together.

Don't worry about the refried beans making your soup too thick either. If this occurs, it's easy enough to thin it out with a little water or broth. But if you'd like to start off small by incorporating these legumes, you can try just replacing half the beans in your recipe with the refried version. And if you love the results, why stop at taco soup? While the flavors in refried beans pair perfectly with Mexican dishes, the ingredient would also be a tasty thickener for other soups too.